Baby Central, Toddler Central

Top 5 Travel Tips – Minimize the Sleep Impact for Your Baby or Toddler

Ahh – baby’s first vacation. These special trips are truly exciting as they’re loaded with “first times”. If planning ahead, there are a few handy things you can do to help your child adjust to their temporary stay! Believe it or not – returning back from travel is the number one reason that drives parents my way (recovering from illness and sleep regressions are tied for a close second).

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Once back home, sleep often falls apart, as baby (or toddler/child) are happy to be home, but not so happy to sleep alone! Little ones become quickly accustomed to the overnight cuddles, room sharing, and carefree schedule experienced on vacation. Who would want to give that up? I know I wouldn’t – it’s even tough for us adults to go back to the daily grind when our own vacay comes to a halt!

Whether you have an upcoming trip scheduled, or you’re seeking a plan for your sound return, check out these 5 sleep tips (great for all young children)!

1) Try to Duplicate the Room SETUP at Home

This seems simple at first glance, but things are rarely what they seem when it comes to sleep! First, let’s simplify: If you room share at home, try to room share on vacation. And, if you and your little one have separate bedrooms at home, try to have that same divide while away. Many times, we don’t have the extra funds or the capability to pull this off, but this is so often the driving force of major sleep disruption upon returning back home. Besides being away from home, it is a big teaser and a large adjustment to dangle this preference and then rip it away once vacation is complete. Children don’t think as logically as we do, and therefore won’t understand your intentions of only rooming together for a few nights. For this tip, keep in mind that 1 or 2 nights, isn’t as big of a deal as a 3+ night stay in terms of disrupting sleep patterns back home.

2) Mimic CONDITIONS from Child’s Sleep Space

Besides the room setup, it’s an excellent idea to bring along some familiarity to your getaway. Some examples include your child’s lovey or blanket (it applicable/old enough), and a sound machine. If they usually sleep with a white noise machine it can help add some consistency with their sleep, as well as drown out any foreign sounds the new place may hold! If you aren’t flying, throw in a dark blanket and some push pins that way you are prepared to tackle any window that needs a rapid treatment. The darker the better for naps and night sleep in a new setting. Too much light, in a new, exciting environment can lead to tons of stimulation during what should be, sleep sessions. Are you worried your tot may feel scared in this unfamiliar place? Then keep reading!

3) Try to Keep Your Little One’s Consistent SCHEDULE

Have FUN, yes! But, don’t have high expectations of your child to sleep well if naps are being skipped, shortened, or at irregular times. I think it is natural for your vacation schedule to deviate a bit from the norm – after all, that is what vacation is all about! But, if you aiming to curb sleep disruption, I would try to adhere to as much of your child’s schedule as you can. Maybe a nap won’t happen at the exact same time, in the crib or pack ‘n play…but it should still happen. Other things you can do to help promote sleep include instilling some wind-down time and implementing the same bedtime routine.

4) Let Your Child PLAY in Their Temporary Sleep Space

During the daytime hours, do your best to find a few minutes here and there for your little one to really play in their temporary bedroom. This will help your child feel comfortable and familiar with this unknown place. Sure, I know you want to get out there and sight-see! Therefore, find your opportune times and moments to help your child feel safe and secure in this space. Go for major laughs. Create a positive association quickly by pulling out everything from your bag of fun tricks! Ideas include: singing silly songs, interactive stories, or light tickles!

5) Get Right Back ON TRACK Once Returning Home

Whoops. So, things didn’t go as planned? You perhaps had no intention of room sharing, co-sleeping, or throwing your toddler’s schedule to the wind, but it happened. No worries – that is what parenting it all about! Lots of whoops, sighs, and picking up the pieces for next time (oh yeah, plus tons of joy, laughter, and high moments woven in between). Dust your shoulders off, because this tip is just for you. Whether your travels are a dream or a bust, upon returning home, get right back to your standard schedule. I am talking about NIGHT ONE.

What often occurs is that our response night one falls short; parents are plain tired and are trying to decide if they’re still in vacation-mode or not. I’ll help you here – you’re NOT. You’re home and you can help your baby or child understand that “this is how, when, and where we sleep at home”, by displaying the utmost consistency. Try to adhere to your ‘ole faithful schedule and implement all standard routines the first night back. If you don’t get back on the saddle, your child’s sleep can majorly regress on a new level. It may be a rough night for you to hush and pat your child when upset, but you can minimize that to just one night with some effort. Otherwise, one night can snowball into the next. And the next.

If you love to read, but also enjoy the occasion video blog, check out some more information on baby travel tips at Baby Sleep Central.