Updated: May 26
It's June and summer is upon us! Time to enjoy family vacations and fun in the sun! It's an exciting time for families with little ones, but it can also be tricky when you're trying to keep your child on a sleep schedule you've worked so hard to establish.
There's always something exciting going on, and friends and relatives who are anxious to see the baby that may have no idea how hard you’ve worked to get your little one sleeping through the night.
As tempting as it may be to let baby skip a nap or let bedtime fall back an hour or two so that you can fit these extra activities into your trip, I highly recommend you resist the temptation and stick to the schedule as closely as possible. Some children travel better than others, but traveling with young children is never easy!
Here are 6 other tips for saving sleep on your summer trip!
Early Morning Flights are Best: Flying with small children is never easy, but from my own experience and the experience of clients, getting to your destination with time in the day to start to settle in always works better. I've had clients ask about taking red-eye / overnight flights and it almost never is a good idea. No one ends up sleeping and then you're in a worse place when you get there.
Plan Traveling by Car During Naps or in the Morning: If you'll be traveling by car for your vacation, the best plan is to travel during your child's normal nap time. For most kids, this will ensure they at least get a nap that day and can make a long car ride more manageable for families with small children. If you can't travel during nap time, try traveling during the morning.
Recreate the Sleeping Environment: If your child sleeps in a crib at home, they should always sleep in a travel crib or Pack 'n Play while traveling. Be sure the room is dark enough! Bring travel shades if necessary. Bring along your little's blanket, lovie, and sleeping clothes. Anything that smells familiar and reminds them of their home sleeping environment will help them get to sleep in their new surroundings. In the event you have to share a room with your little one, try to create some kind of partition in the room so that baby can’t see you from their crib. Hang a blanket from a line running across the room, if necessary, but don’t bring them into bed with you if you can avoid it. Consider a suite if staying in a hotel so your child has their own sleeping space/room. A bathroom can work for babies too.
Wind Down Period and Bedtime Routines: Separate your child 15-20 minutes from the fun of travel before routine starts to wind down. Keep the sleep routine the same when traveling. Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, etc. may want to do the bedtime routine, but it's easier and not overstimulating on your child if parents do it while on vacation.
Avoid Overtiredness: Changes in the schedule are the quickest way to end up with an overtired baby, and overtiredness will almost undoubtedly see a reemergence of those bad sleep habits you’ve all worked so hard to prevent. If baby’s tired and cranky, you’re going to have a lousy time. Sticking to the schedule and keeping baby well-rested will assure that the time you do get to spend with friends and family is fun, happy, and relaxed.
Time Zone Changes: Some children handle this better than others. If you are going 1, maybe 2, hours time difference, you may be able to stay in your home time zone. If your child naturally adjusts to the new time zone, go with it. If going more than 3 days, get on local time as soon as possible. If going less than 3 days, you may be able to do a partial adjustment. If traveling to a time zone more than 6/8 hours difference, it can be difficult to adjust when coming home (can take 1-3 weeks).
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