A huge thank you to Nicole Johnson, sleep coach and owner of The Baby Sleep Site, who offered these sanity-saving travel tips!
Finally feeling ready to take an overnight trip with your little one? It’s a big (and very exciting milestone)! These five travel sleep tips will help ease any anxiety you have about the first night of sleep away from home. They’ll also help keep you sane in the process.
5 Expert Sleep Tips for Traveling with Your Baby
1. Don’t Let Jet Lag Throw You For a Loop
If you are going on a short (3 days or less) trip to another time zone, consider keeping your child on your home time zone for the duration of the trip.
If your trip is longer than that, it will be virtually impossible to keep up with that 10 PM bedtime or 4 AM wake-up calls. So for longer trips, move your child to the new time zone as soon as possible (without torturing her with sleep deprivation)!
A good way to ease a child into a new timezone is to split the time difference on each of the first two days. So if the new time is three hours off her regular bedtime, put her to bed 1 ½ hours earlier or later (depending on where you are) and limit “sleeping in” to just the first day. Like adults, most children will adjust in a few days.
2. Establish Your Routine Early
Before traveling, make sure your baby’s routine is well-established. The more predictable their bedtime is at home, the better it will transfer to a new place. A good routine might include dinner, bath, pajamas, brushing gums/teeth, reading books, singing two songs, and into bed.
Try to stick to your routine as close as possible on the trip. This will not only be helpful on the trip but will make easing back into life at home much smoother, too.
3. Bring Home With You
Reinvent home as much as possible when staying at a hotel or with family. Introduce a lovey that will give your child comfort being away from home. Consider taking your own blankets, white noise machine or music, books, and any other security objects to ease the transition to a new place.
4. Consider Your Hotel Room
Having multiple rooms is better! I know that suite-style rooms can be pricey but I recommending opt for a suite whenever possible.
Oftentimes, you can find an economical hotel with two adjoining rooms for roughly the same price as a single room at a higher end hotel. This can make your trip more relaxing, especially because you will have space in your room to unwind during nap time and after you put the baby to sleep at night.
Plus, having a quiet place can encourage your baby to sleep through the night. Also, pull the blackout shades over the windows to keep the room extra dark, for a few added zzz’s in the morning. (If, when staying with a friend, there aren’t curtains, a blanket will do.)
5. Allow plenty of time
Traveling with little ones is no small feat. Relieve stress by building in extra time to get to your destination, allowing you to settle in, adjust to time changes and deal with delayed flights. If flying, consider taking an early morning flight to allow for a later nap in the hotel, should your child not sleep on the plane. (Planes are just too exciting for some little ones!)
If you’re driving, consider leaving around nap time if your baby falls asleep well in a moving car. If they don’t, leave at least an hour earlier as the excitement of going on the trip can sometimes delay drowsiness.
The first time you travel,
might not probably won’t go perfectly, but keep trying. Maybe your baby was too excited to nap on the plane, or the hotel room just didn’t smell like home, or you forgot your toddler’s blankie. The more you travel, the more routine it becomes for both you and your child. The adventure is worth it for both of you and nothing beats being able to kiss her goodnight and then snuggle with your hubby or girl talk with your best friend.
Thanks again to Nicole Johnson, sleep coach and owner of The Baby Sleep Site. She has become an expert on infant and toddler sleep and has made it her mission to help other parents solve their child’s sleep problems, too.
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