Vacation time brings such an excitement for most of us. It doesn’t matter whether we choose to visit a new country or our relative, it is always something that we are waiting for.
Now. If you are a new parent or have a very young child and you are considering having a family trip soon, I would like to warn you first. Vacations could really disrupt your child’s sleep. Especially, if your little one just recently became a “perfect sleeper” – he started sleeping through the night or started going to bed without a big deal of fussing, I would advise you to delay your trip for a few weeks if possible.
If you have still decided to go for a holiday with your little one, I am here to prepare you for challenges that you will be experiencing along your way.
#Tip 1: Avoid Sharing A Room and A Bed!
If you aren’t sharing a room with your little one at home, then do the same while you are on vacation. Book two rooms, if you can afford it and have a baby monitor with you, so you can stay reassured. Remember, keeping things the same as at home, will help your little one to adjust to the new environment quickly.
Some hotel rooms even feature separate sitting areas which could be another, less expensive alternative for not sharing the same room.
If you don’t have a choice and must share the room with your baby, then divide your room into two rooms. Use anything you can. You can move the closet or hang a sheet as a partition. Your main goal here is not to allow your baby to see you when he wakes up.
Never share the bed with your little one even if it is so tempting! I suggest you always request your hotel for a crib or baby cot when you book your room. If you visit relatives, ask them to arrange a crib or a cot for your baby.
#Tip 2: Bring Along Your Child’s Favorite Items.
I recommend you bring your child’s bedding with you. That will provide a comfort for him. The same smell feel and texture will help soothe him and will ease the adjustment.
Be sure you do not forget his lovie, that he sleeps with. Also, bring with your child’s favorite toy and book.
# Tip 3: Maintain Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule and Bedtime Routine.
I know this one is hard. But you can still do your best. Try to keep your little one’s sleep schedule as similar as possible to the schedule that he follows at home. Do your best to maintain the same naptimes and bedtimes. You could plan to take a rest yourself in the hotel while your child is having a nap.
If you are out and it’s a nap time for your little one, don’t panic. You can still let him nap in his stroller. If you are planning to have a car ride, start your journey when your baby usually naps. If you are flying, I would strongly suggest you taking morning or day flight and avoid having a late evening flight, so your baby’s bedtime will not be later than usual.
If your child was having no naps or very short naps, consider putting him to bed even earlier than usual, to make up for poor naps. In this way, you will avoid dealing with an overtired baby.
Try to stick to bedtime routine as well. If the bath is the first part of your baby’s routine, then let him have it. If you read or sing for him before he sleeps, then do the same while you are on holidays. This will signal to your little one what is coming next and will help him to adapt to the new place more easily.
Remember, consistency is the key!
# Tip 4: Be Aware of Different Time Zones!
Not only us but also children experience jet lag. If you are staying in the different time zone from one to three days only, I would suggest you stick to your home schedule.
However, if you are staying any longer, you should adjust to the new time zone. Daylight is your strongest tool to achieve that. Take your baby and get him out into daylight. Keep in mind, that exposure to sunlight during different intervals of the day helps to reset the body clock.
Also, wake up your child at his usual wake-up time when you start your vacation and once you are back at home. So, if your little one normally starts the day at 7:00 a.m. at home, in the United Arab Emirates, wake him up at 7:00 a.m. Australian Eastern Time if you are in Australia.
Don’t let your little one nap late or have very long naps. Wake him from his last nap if it is too long, so he can go to bed at his regular bedtime.
# Tip 5: Don’t make exceptions!
I advise you not to make exceptions and not to feel guilty about it. If you child keeps disturbing the rest of the house and you start thinking: “Should I nurse him to sleep?” “Should I rock him to sleep? “Should I give him a pacifier, so he sleeps?”, the answer to that is “no”. Don’t do anything just because of others.
You probably believe that it is not a big deal if you help your little one to drift into the sleeping mode for once only. The problem with that is, if you did it once, your child will expect the same thing the next day and the next day until it will become a huge disturbance for you yourself.
Another point is, if you assisted your child to fall asleep, he will request your help to go back to sleep during the night. So, the chances are that from making one exception, you could end up waking every hour or two just to help your little one to continue his sleep.
What I am trying to say is, your baby’s and your family’s health and well-being are the most important, so don’t let anyone else distress that.
#Tip 6: Continue Your Regular Routines Once You Get Home.
Do the same things that you were doing before your trip. Use the same routine. Put your child to bed at a regular time. Give your baby a clear message that even though some things may have been different while you were away, home sleep rules still apply.
Kids normally need few days to re-adjust once they are back at home. Just stay consistent.