Whether you’re traveling with a snuggly 5-month-old or a spunky 3-year-old, there’s a good chance that amidst the packing and planning, your child’s sleep is on your mind. Rest easy: Carolynne J. Harvey, Baby Sleep Expert and the Founder of Dream Baby Sleep®, shares five tips that can help your little ones sleep more soundly during your vacation and holiday travel.
Recreate your child’s bedroom
If your child sleeps with a sound machine, sleep sack, pacifier, lovey, special blanket or anything else at home, bring it with you. It may feel like a lot of stuff to pack, but anything you can do to replicate your child’s sleep space at home will help her sleep more soundly in a new environment. When getting your baby ready for bed, be sure to close all blinds and make the bedroom as dark as you possibly can to help her stay asleep and keep the morning sun from waking her too early.
When you’re on vacation, it’s normal for naps to not always go as planned. Your child may be adjusting to being in a different time zone and there are so many new sights, activities, and experiences that could impact daytime sleep. Aim for one good nap per day at your child’s regular nap time, but if naps are short or don’t happen please don’t stress about it. While it’s tempting to push bedtime later when you’re away from home, I actually urge parents to plan for bedtime to be 30 to 60 minutes earlier than usual. An earlier bedtime will allow your child to make up for any lost daytime sleep and rest up after a very busy and fun-filled day. Just be sure to book babysitting in advance so you can get out and enjoy your evenings. After all, it’s your vacation, too!
Create a separate sleep space
If your child is used to sleeping in her own room, but you’re in a shared space while on vacation, try to create a separate sleeping area to help avoid nighttime and early morning wakings. You could try putting your baby’s crib in a well ventilated bathroom or walk-in closet with the door cracked open. Or, try positioning a chair between the baby’s crib and your bed to block your baby’s line of sight so she doesn’t see you at 3 a.m. and think it’s time to party.
Maintain a consistent bedtime routine
While many things are going to be different while on vacation (one of the many joys of traveling!) try to keep your child’s pre-bed routines the same as it is at home. All of the steps that your child is used to signal to her brain that it’s time for sleep. So, if you usually give your baby a bath, put on her diaper, pajamas, and sleep sack, read a book, and sing a song before bed then try to do those same things each night while you’re here, too.
Reset at home
If your baby or child picks up some new sleep habits during your vacation such as waking more often at night for feeding or only napping in the stroller, don’t sweat it. Children are very adaptable and can get back on track when you return home. Just try to be as consistent as you can with implementing your previous routines and within a few days your child will adjust. Chances are she’s going to miss those poolside naps as much as you will.
Don’t panic if holiday travel throws a monkey wrench in your little’s sleep. Reach out and schedule a free 15 minute sleep consultation so we can quickly get you back on track.
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