Getting ready to travel? Nervous about how your child will sleep while you are away on that fabulous vacation you’ve planned or family visit your mother-in-law has been dying for? Here are my favorite tips for when we are traveling with our little ones in tow.
Have your child as well rested as possible ahead of time. This is the best piece of advice I give the families I work with. After all, half of parenting is defense, anyway. So, in the days before your trip, make sure sleep is as typical as possible- meaning, no late nights, no skipped naps, etc. Keep it simple in the days leading up to your travels.
Plan ahead: Where will your child sleep? What will the schedule be like? It’s best to plan as much as possible since your child will be out of their usual environment. Ensuring the correct sleep space and configuration of who sleeps where can help you feel more at ease about how your child’s sleep may change while away.
Bring the comforts of home with you- lovey, noise machine, night light, etc. Be sure to bring anything that your child needs to feel safe and secure while sleeping in a different place. Sometimes parents will even bring sheets along if a child is particular about the way their bed sheets or blankets feel.
Talk to your child if they are older: tell them what to expect. Children vary in their sensitivity to their sleep environment. Some parents swear their kids sleep better while on vacation, perhaps at the beach, while others wonder if it’s worth the trouble of going away since it throws their child for such a loop. Telling your child, in simple language, that you are going to be in a different place for a few days can help them understand and anticipate the change during your time away. And, if things have to different while you are away (if you don’t usually share a room but need to during your time away, for example) tell them that when you get back home everything goes back to normal.
Get back to routine as soon as possible after you’ve arrived home. Lots of families get into atypical sleep situations while away from home. All of a sudden kids are co-sleeping or being rocked to sleep when before they went to sleep on their own. Don’t stress! Just get back on track once you’ve arrived back home. Trust that your child can get back into the normal bedtime routine with consistency and patience.