Sweet Summertime is here once again. It’s one of my favorite seasons (not that we quite get four seasons down here in Louisiana) because it always means there’s sure to be a family vacation. I just love making memories with my family and catching a nice sun tan too! With all the packing and planning most of us overlook one important part of the trip…and that’s making sure your little one stays rested and (as much as possible) on schedule. So to help make your vacation go a little smoother I’ve included my five best tips for staying on track with sleep while you travel.
When you’re planning a family vacation, a helpful thing to consider is how your travel plans are going to affect your child’s sleep routine. If you keep this in mind while planning you will have a more enjoyable vacation if you organize your trip in a way that allows your little one to some what stay on track with his or her sleep schedule. This will help ensure she gets the rest she needs to be happy, healthy, and alert during your trip—which is bound to make the trip more enjoyable for everyone!
Here are some tips to help your child get the sleep he needs during your travels:
Tip 1: Don’t over-schedule
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might have had back in their “child-free” days. I can admit to being guilty of this as well on that first trip! You just want to see all the things and get to see and do as much as possible, right?! The fact is, when you travel with a baby you still want to have a good time, but don’t schedule an activity for every hour of the day. Remember, no one will have fun if you have a cranky kid in tow! Try to spread out your activities and enjoy some down time when it’s time for your baby or toddlers nap.
Tip 2: Be consistent with naps and bedtime
An occasional nap in the car seat or a later-than-usual bedtime probably won’t do too much harm, but if your baby’s naps are all over the place and she goes to bed much later than usual several days in a row, they will become so overtired and cranky that a complete meltdown will be inevitable. So just do your best to try and stay on track!
If your child is Two and half to Three years old, you may have a little more flexibility with naps as they are heading towards no more naps anyway. So in this case if you have a busy day that just doesn’t make time for his nap, then you will want to move bedtime up by thirty minutes to one hour earlier than usual.
If your little one is an infant on 3 or more naps then some of those naps can take place on the go (in the carrier, on the beach, or in the car) but you will want to stretch those out over the course of the trip and still make time for naps in the crib or bassinet. My popular 80/20 rule for naps applies here as well! Shoot for 80% of the naps in the crib and 20% can happen on the go. This is just a good rule of thumb for little ones on multiple naps a day.
Tip 3: Be patient
Even if your baby is the best little sleeper in the world at home, when you’re in a strange environment things might be very different. It’s normal for babies and toddlers to test boundaries around sleep when they’re somewhere new. Just because you have certain rules at home, they won’t automatically understand that the same rules apply at Grandma’s house. If you hang on to your consistency, within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again.
Tip 4: Bring the comforts of home
If your child has a favorite lovey or stuffed animal, it will go a long way to helping him feel safe and secure enough to fall asleep in a strange environment. It may even be a good idea to bring your own crib sheets washed at home. Another important element is to make the sleeping space is DARK to help with early wakes and naps. Yep you guessed it, this means to pack along your travel black out blinds or even a roll of garbage bags with painters tape! And last but not least, bring along your sound machine. Helping to make their temporary sleep space like home will bring them comfort in this new space. The comforts of home will go a long way!
When you arrive to your vacation destination, take some time to acclimate to the new surroundings before rushing in to nap time or bedtime. This will allow your child to become familiar with their new temporary home away from home. If you have a toddler or preschooler show them how exciting this vacation spot is and just how fun it will be to sleep in their new “vacation home” for the next few days. You can even roll play with your child about what is expected of them surrounding sleep and bedtime, especially if you are sharing a room and not used to doing so.
If separate sleeping spaces is not an option for you on vacation, don’t worry! You can still have peaceful bedtimes. Position the pack and play or travel crib in a way that creates some element of separation between your bed and theirs. Check in with the hotel to see if they have a room divider or hang up a sheet. You can get pretty creative, trust me.
Tip 5: If you’re not a co-sleeping family, don’t start now
Another big mistake parents make is to start sharing a bed with their baby or toddler while traveling. Even if it’s only for a few nights, your little one can become used to this new habit and struggle to go back to their own bed.The good news is, most hotels have a crib you can use or rent. There are also so many great pack and plays and travel cribs on the market that make traveling with them a breeze. If you have to room share with your child create a barrier between their sleeping space and yours. Otherwise when your child wakes up and sees her favorite people she will want to stay up!
Hope you find these tips helpful on your travels and that you create lots of awesome memories on your vacation. And I think next year I might need a vacation from my vacation!
When you finally recuperate from your vacation and find that your little one got off track from all the excitement and activities then just jump back in to your normal routine.
Sweet (summertime) dreams