It can be very scary to take your young baby on vacation, especially when you’ve finally gotten them on a great sleep progress (12 hour nights). You can remember that it was just a few months ago that sleep was hell and you and your entire household were sleep deprived. Well I’m here to tell you to relax, your baby has learned how to self-soothe now and he has better skills that will help him to go back to sleep. Trust the process and go have fun on your vacation!
Here are some tips for traveling with a younger child that has healthy sleep habits and knows to self-soothe:
- Don’t over schedule yourselves: over tiredness can set in due to shortened naps, skipped naps, later bedtimes. Back slide into old sleep props and undo everything competed. It takes about 3 nights to undo the sleep training that took 2 weeks.
- a nap in the car here or there, a later bedtime every now and then won’t effect, but you have to see what your child’s temperament is in order to see if they mind the flexibility in the schedule.
- plan ahead and figure out how you and your spouse are going to split nap times, bed times, etc., you wouldn’t skip meals because you want to see the sights…same with sleep, you’ve got to keep them on schedule.
- Room share/bed share- DO NOT bring the kids back into your bed. When traveling, ask for a crib or create an “own room” scenario: pack n play in a space where they won’t see you like the bathroom or a big closet. You could also ask for adjoining rooms. Especially toddlers are going to think it’s play time if they wake up and see mom and dad in the same room!
- Make sure you bring all the sleep gear, blankets/stuffed animals, pack n play, etc. You may be able to bend your normal sleep routine rules a little bit in order to get the child used to the environment.
- For car trips, it’s best to begin driving before nap time or bed time (as long as you don’t get tired while driving). It won’t be the most fulfilling sleep, but it’s sleep.
- For air travel. No rules! Do what you can to get the child to sleep.
- Timezone travel. If you have a well rested baby before you travel, they can handle jet lag better than adults. If travel is longer than a week, then jump into the new time zone for bedtimes and naps. when returning home and the time difference is great, then skip a nap in order to save the bedtime. Light will cue circadian rhythm, so get outside! when it’s time for bed, keep it dark so that the melatonin can build and cue to sleep.
- For older children, if they are not used to sharing a room, things could get wild. Remember to first warn, then implement consequence immediately. for example, kids are jumping on the bed, let them know lay down and go to sleep or I’ll take away your favorite …
- Remember to have a great time and stick to your schedules as much as possible!