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Get Your Baby Sleeping on Vacation

Family running on beach at sunset, rear view

I admit it, I was pretty nervous about packing up the kids and trekking around B.C. for our two-week summer vacation last month. Even though I knew what to do to ensure my daughters had consistent naps and overnight sleep, I had a major case of the “what-ifs”. And if you know us, we’re no stranger to traveling with kids. Our oldest daughter had 13 stamps in her passport by the time she was 9 months old!

So I should have this down pat, right? But, since it had been about a year since we’ve traveled with the kids, I was worried. We booked 3 short stays in 3 different locations. That also meant 3 different rooms for the girls to get used to and a lot of driving. So, how’d it all turn out? AMAZING!!! I trusted my gut, followed my travel best practices and both girls slept just as well as they do at home! Our summer is saved!

Here’s how you can get your kids sleeping on vacation too!

When you’re planning a family holiday with a baby, an important thing to consider is how your travel plans are going to affect your child’s sleep routine. You’ll have a much more enjoyable vacation if you organize your trip in a way that allows for as little disruption as possible to your little one is sleep schedule. This will help ensure she gets the rest she needs to be happy, healthy, and alert during your trip, which is bound to make your holiday more enjoyable for everyone! Here are some tips to help ensure sure your baby gets the sleep he needs during your travels:

Tip 1: Don’t over-schedule

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might have had back in their child-free days. The fact is, when you travel with a baby you can’t plan to go bungee-jumping in the morning, swim with dolphins in the early afternoon, go parasailing in the late afternoon, and go on a dinner cruise in the evening. It is better to slow down the pace and make sure you schedule regular naps and early bedtimes, just like you would at home.

Tip 2: Be consistent with naps and bedtime

An occasional nap in the car seat or a later-than-usual bedtime probably won’t do too much harm, but if your baby’s naps are all over the place and she goes to bed much later than usual several days in a row, your baby will become so overtired and cranky that a complete meltdown will be inevitable.

Tip 3: Be patient as your baby acclimatizes to the new environment

Even if your baby is the best little sleeper in the world at home, when you’re in a strange environment things might be very different. It is normal for babies and toddlers to test boundaries around sleep when they’re somewhere new. Just because you have certain rules at home, they won’t automatically understand that the same rules apply at Grandma’s house

In a strange place, your baby might cry for a while at bedtime or wake up at odd times during the night. The best way to handle this kind of behavior is to react the same way you would at home. Go into the room every five minutes or so to offer a bit of reassurance, but other than that, don’t bend your rules. If you hang on tight to your consistency, within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again.

Tip 4. Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket

If your child has a treasured comfort item, it will go a long way to helping him feel safe and secure enough to fall asleep in a strange environment. Forget it at your peril!

Tip 5. If you’re not a co-sleeping family, don’t start now

Another big mistake parents make is to start sharing a bed with their baby or toddler while traveling. Even if it is only for a few nights, if your baby decides this is her new preferred way to sleep, you could find yourself dealing with a big problem when you get home and put her back in her crib. The good news is, most hotels have a crib you can use or rent. You could also take your portable playpen along and use that as a crib. I L O V E the idea of putting the crib in a large closet or bathroom. It helps creates a dark, quiet sleeping environment for baby and you don’t have to worry about tip-toeing around all night.

For more sleep tips, visit www.guidingnight.com