Travelling with Children: Will I Sleep?
Travelling, like any changes to routine, can throw a wrench in your baby’s sleep.
So do I just stay at home until my child is 5?
Are there ways to improve sleep while vacationing?
Thankfully, the answer is YES!
So how do I improve my chances of sleeping while travelling?
- Ensure your child has great sleeping skills at home. The better a home sleeper, the better are your chances of sleeping while travelling. Not sleeping at home? Hire a gentle sleep coach;)
- Stick to your routine as closely as possible. Are baths a part of your bedtime routine? Keep the bath as a part of the routine in your travel destination. No bathtub? No problem; use a sink or shower to simulate that part of the routine. Bring the bedtime books your little one is used to reading before drifting off into slumberland.
- Bring a lovey. Does your child have a lovey who accompanies them into sleepy land every night at home? Bring them. Having a familiar friend when sleeping in a completely different environment can help your little one feel safe and secure in their new surroundings.
- Bring a nightlight. Of course this is only if your child is accustomed to sleeping with a nightlight at home.
- Bring some aluminium foil and tape. These items will be your best friends after you cover the windows and prevent the light from coming into your room at 6 am.
- Bring a favourite blanket. Again, familiarity; it works.
- Find out if there are cribs available at your travel destination. Many hotels offer cribs or playards, and many grandparents or family members will be more than willing to
accommodate you if you ask. There are also many portable options you could bring with you, if you travel often. If your child is out of their own bed, find out if a roll out bed is an option. If not, move the bed in your room close to the wall for safety. Line the floor with pillows in case of falls.
- Decide on a strategy and stick to it. You may very well end up with a toddler in your bed part way through the night. Is this ok for you when you are travelling or do you prefer that they learn to stick to their own bed at all times?
- Watch your child sleep cues. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean your child can all of a sudden ignore their natural sleep windows, and go with the flow. As much as that would make our lives easier, children simply don’t work this way. Try to keep your child’s bedtime as close to their natural bedtime as possible. Respect their need for naps also. By doing this, you also increase your own chances of sleeping soundly during the night.
- Try to have a consistent sleep spot. By returning your child to sleep in the same place for naps and bedtime throughout your entire trip, you are using familiarity. See tips 2, 3, and 6.
- Time changes: jump right in. If there is a time change, change your clocks to the new time immediately upon arising. If your child regularly wakes at 7am, wake them at 7am in the new time zone and schedule your naps and bedtime accordingly. If you arrive late, sleep as long as your child will allow you both to sleep, and put them down to nap when they look as though they need it. While doing this, make sure you don’t let them nap too late in the day or you could be adjusting for a few days.
Children are remarkably adaptable and some do better than others with change in routine. For those children who resist routine tweaks, ensure you bring as much familiarity from home as possible and you will survive. Just as teething and illness can hit at any time, travel may also disrupt the sleep of our little ones, so you may experience a temporary sleep setback. That’s fine and part of being a parent. Give them extra cuddles and love when they are cranky and jump right back into your pre-travel sleep routine upon returning home. You’ll be sleeping again in no time!
Do you have any tried and true travel sleep tips? I’d love to hear them!
Not sleeping well at home? I can help! Call me for a FREE 15-minute consultation.