Travelling anywhere with a child may fill you with some dread especially if your child does not have independent sleep skills. Do not fear, these holiday sleep tips can make your sure little one is happy and confident in their new sleep environment and will make your time away a little easier.
Packing light for carry on luggage is no longer an option but you have to pack wisely. Spares, spares, spares of everything! Clothes for you and for your little one/s just in case of mid-air nappy/food accidents. Take spare food including formula, nappies, and any of your usual necessities as well and their favourite snacks and things to entertain them on the journey.
Sleep rules can be put on hold for the flight and so allow them to sleep when they want to, especially if the flight is over 2 hours. Travel can be exhausting and it will not take long to rein sleep rules back into your routine once you get settled at your destination.
Check that the temperature of the room is within tolerance (see Lullaby Trust for safe room temperature for babies), and if you need advice on how to make the room cooler click here for tips. The essentials for the bedroom environment set up are simply, take a black out blind, their favourite cuddly teddy/blanket and some bedding that smells like home. A dark environment will help encourage sleepy hormones, which will help them to settle easier and something that smells like home will bring comfort.
If your child is over 8 months old and you are sharing a room try to create a private space for them or a divide that will prevent them from seeing you when they have their lighter waking’s in the night (the best persons in the world) and thinking it is time for play.
It’s very normal for children and babies to test the normal at home boundaries of sleep when they are somewhere new. The best way to treat this is to do the same as you would do if you were at home. Stay calm and relaxed and if they are unsettled go to them every five minutes or so to offer reassurance. Sticking to your bedtime routine and sleep rules whilst maintaining consistency will mean that your little one should only take a night or two to settle into their new environment and sleep well.
If your little ones or not so little ones are sharing a room together there will always be a bit of excitement around bedtime for a night or two but again, stay consistent with your rules and they will soon be back to sleeping well.
Holidays and days out together will mean that nap/s will not always be had in a cot and in a dark environment. Be assured that the odd nap whilst out and about will not undo all your good work or your little ones sleep skills. Just be cautious about having lots of naps in a car or in a pram as the motion may be something your little one comes to rely upon. To prevent this make sure they have the majority of naps in their cot. Try not to do 2 or more ‘on-the-go’ nap days back to back. Naps in their cot may be some time for you to soak up some rays or even have a little siesta of your own.
Don’t set yourself up for difficult sleep.
- The occasional nap on-the-go or slightly later bedtime isn’t going to do too much harm, but if your little one spends a couple of days taking car or pram naps followed by a later than normal bedtime, they may become overtired resulting in difficult bedtimes. This will happen as the over tiredness and inconsistency will result in them having forgotten how to settle themselves to sleep an there will be tears and no one wants to cry on holiday.
- Stick to your routine as much as you can as being away from home and in unfamiliar surroundings, especially if your little one is unsettled for a night or two, can lead you back to sleep practices you were using at a time when you were struggling with sleep the most.
- Try not to over schedule your days. I appreciate you will want to explore as much of your destination as possible but try to do it slowly. Over scheduling will probably be over whelming for your little one and they will end up grumpy and overtired which means unsettled bedtimes and night waking’s.
- I was a bed-sharing parent for a long time and so I understand the emotive reasoning behind bed sharing with your baby or toddler especially whilst traveling. It is not a good idea, especially if your child is one who has good sleep skills. They may prefer this way of sleeping which will lead you back into a world of difficulty when you return home. The majority of accommodations have spare beds and cot you can use so make sure you check in advance and take your own if necessary.
Enjoy your holiday
We know how important sleep is to our overall mood and I know you want your holiday to be filled with happy memories and happy children. Stick to your sleep rules, be consistent and try not to have too many late nights and naps on the go. Enjoy your holidays making magical memories together.
If you would like to teach your little one sleep skills before your holiday or if you are back from your trip and feel your holiday may have been just that bit more relaxing if they knew how to sleep get in touch. You can book a free, 15 minute no obligation call and we can talk about working together to get you a better night’s sleep.