Summer will soon be upon us but, if your little one does not sleep terribly well, taking a trip may fill you with dread. The good news is that you do not have to cancel all travel plans and confine yourself to the house for the rest of your child’s life. 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 that they try to do too much with their children. If you try to fit too many things you will end up with a grumpy, overtired child who may not settle well at bedtime.
2. An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime probably isn’t going to do too much harm, but if your little one spends a couple of days taking car seat naps here and there and having late bedtimes, she may become so overtired that by the time bedtime rolls around on the second day she will be so tired she forgets how to settle herself and cry…a lot. It is very important to stick to your routine; being away (or having a little one who is not settling) will make it all too easy to revert back to your own familiar ways and you will be back to square one.
3. It’s very normal for babies and toddlers to test the boundaries around sleep when they are somewhere new. The best way to handle this is to not do too much different than you would if it happened at home. You can go in every five minutes or so to offer a bit of reassurance, but other than that, don’t bend your rules. If you stick to your routine and maintain consistency, within the first night or two, your little one will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again.
4. Whatever you do, don’t forget your little one’s favourite sleeping toy and/or blanket!
5. Another big mistake parents make is to bed share with their baby or toddler while traveling. Even it’s it is only for a few nights, if your little one decides this is her new preferred location, you could find yourself starting all over again when you get home. Most hotels have a cot you can use so make sure you check in advance and take your own if necessary.
6. Ideally, especially if your little one is older than 8 months, try to make some sort of private space for your baby to sleep. Anywhere that you can build some sort of a partition between you and your little one, so that if she has a wake up in the middle of the night she is not so excited to see her two favourite people that she ends up wide awake thinking it’s play time! Of course, getting an extra bedroom for your child is great if that’s an option for you.
7. Enjoy your holidays and making magical memories. Remembering your little one’s sleep basics will ensure you have a, relatively, restful and stress free holiday!