It’s taken you a few weeks or months to get your baby into a good sleep schedule. Now that you’ve put in the time, effort and energy to make this big change in your family’s life, that trip you have planned for next month is starting to stress you out! Sometimes the mere thought of it frightens parents so much that they cancel all trips and just vow to stay home until the child leaves for college! Who really wants to do that??
By making a few adjustments and changes, your child will sleep peacefully in any setting. It is possible to have children who travel really well, if you keep a few things in mind.
1. The biggest mistake parents make is over-scheduling themselves. They try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might normally have had back in their “child-free” days, forgetting an important fact: they now have a child! The new environment will over stimulate your child without adding additional activities. Try to spread out your plans over a few days instead of doing everything at once.
2. An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime isn’t going to do too much harm. But if your baby spends a couple of days taking car seat naps here and there and having late bedtimes, they may become so overtired that a complete nuclear meltdown is on its way….not what you want to be the highlight of your time away.
But what do you do if:
3. It’s very normal for babies and toddlers to test the boundaries around sleep when they are somewhere new. Just because the routine is the routine at home, that does not necessarily mean that everything is the same at Grandma’s house. This may mean that your baby is crying again at bedtime or having a night waking or two. The best way to handle this is to not do too much different than if you were at home. If your children normally put themselves to sleep, try going in every 5 to 10 minutes or so to offer a bit of reassurance and comfort. Other then that, don’t bend the rules you already had in place. If you hang on tight in your consistency, within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and sleeping well again.
4. Make sure to bring everything neccessary for your child's sleep routine; lovies, blankets, books and anything else they normally use during their routine before or during sleep.
5. Another big mistake parents make is to bed share with their baby or toddler while traveling. Unless this is how your child normally sleeps each night at home, try to avoid the temptation. Just a few nights, can change your babies’ preference and they might decide that this is there new preferred location. Most hotels have a crib you can use or rent, or take your pack n play along and use that as a crib.
6. If your child is not used the their pack n play, start using it in their bedroom for naps the week before you leave for your trip. This allows your child to familiarize themselves with it and get your household smells which will be comforting to your child.
7. If your child is eight months or older, try to make some sort of a private space for your baby to sleep. This could be the bathroom or the closet (if it’s big enough). Anywhere that you can build some sort of a partition between you and your baby, so that if they wake up in the middle of the night they do not see their two favorite people and think it’s playtime! Of course, getting an extra bedroom for your child would be the best solution, if that is an option for you.
Remember all children and babies are different and react to sudden change differently. Try communicating to them a few days before a trip of where you’re going, how you’re getting there and whom you’re going to see. No matter how young they are, you might be surprised at how much they can understand and put themselves at ease.
Crystal Duggan, owner of Precious Dreamers, is a sleep advisor who uses The Sleep Sense™ Method. This method was created out of a strong belief that healthy sleep habits make for healthy children. A well-rested child is curious, energetic, happy, playful, and eager to learn. Book your FREE 15 minute phone consultation with Crystal by calling 647-98-DREAM (3-7326).