5 Tips for Maintaining Your Baby’s Healthy Sleep Habits While on Vacation

June 26, 2023

Maintaining your baby’s healthy sleep habits while on vacation - mom with children at an airport waiting for vacation to start

With Summer just on the horizon, I wanted to share my top 5 tips for helping your baby keep on sleeping while on vacation.  While traveling, your little one will be experiencing new and exciting things to see, feel, and taste, and do, so they must remain well-rested to be engaging and in a good mood while on the go.  Even with the change in location, healthy sleep habits can still be maintained.  Read on to learn how. 

Tip 1: Plan Your Travel Schedule Wisely

When planning a vacation as a parent to small children, it is important to prioritize their sleep by being sure to schedule your travel and the timing of activities.  To minimize possible bumps on Holiday Road, consider traveling by car or plane around the baby’s nap time or bedtime.  As a parent of two kiddos, believe me when I say silence is golden…especially on long car rides.  If traveling by car, plan to make pit stops to get your little one out of the car and move around.  Just like adults on a car ride, it is easy for babies and small children to get restless on long rides without breaks.  It may take you longer to reach your destination, but it will also help minimize possible tears. Once at your destination, give your little one time to acclimate and investigate their new surroundings.  This will help when bedtime comes.  

Tip 2: Recreate a Familiar Sleep Environment

When packing for the trip, bring all the familiar items your baby associates with bedtime and sleeping.  These items should include:

  • A pack-n-play or rent a crib at your destination
  • A slumber Pod if you have one 
  • Several crib sheets – laundered at home and zipped tight in a ziplock bag.
  • Sleep Sack
  • Lovey
  • White noise (I love ones that can be battery-operated or recharged))
  • Travel Blackout shades 
  • Check out and download my FREE Packing Lists in my Freebie section.

Also, remember to follow your normal bedtime routine and be sure not to skip steps in order to make it brief.  Remember, the bedtime routine helps your little one wind down and prepare for sleep.  

Tip 3: Stick to Your Baby’s Sleep Routine

Probably the most important tip of all, try your best to stick to their normal sleep schedule and prevent overtiredness and overstimulation.  Both can equal a very poor night’s sleep. And let’s not forget the naps.  Missing a nap may not seem like a big deal as it happens, but you will surely regret it later when you have an overtired, overstimulated, and just plain over-everything kiddo.  If you are considering naps on the go in a stroller, that’s fine.  To help make it a bit easier, I recommend investing in a Snooze Shade to fit over the stroller.  It protects against UV rays and creates a darkened, breathable sleep environment for babies.  I also highly recommend, if your family’s vacation is to the Happiest Place on Earth (Walt Disney World), that you consider taking a mid-afternoon break from the parks and excitement and everyone rests back at your hotel or vacation rental.  A cool nap can help revive overheated and overstimulated humans and help to revive and reset for an evening at the park.  

Tip 4: Be Mindful of Your Baby’s Meals and Normal Feeding Times

This one should seem to be a no-brainer when it comes to traveling.  But you’d be surprised how easily you can get off track from your normal eating schedule when on vacation.  Depending on where you plan to visit, staying well nourished and hydrated can be key to keeping dehydration at bay.  Moreover, sticking to your baby’s normal feeding schedule can help keep predictability on track and make sure they get plenty of nourishment during the day so they can sleep well at night. And a tip from one parent to another, make sure you bring more than what you need when packing food or formula for your baby.  Also try not to stress too much if their intake is a little off. Curiosity around being in a new environment can cause short term distraction and possibly a short term reduction in intake.  Remember, that babies won’t starve themselves, so be patient and soon enough it will be business as usual in the nourishment department.  Oh, and for toddlers and preschoolers, remember snacks, lots and lots of snacks.  Trust me on this.  

Tip 5: Prioritize Relaxation and Calmness

Vacations are exciting for everyone.  Especially young children.  When approaching bedtime, it is important to create a calming environment.  Dim the lights, advocate quiet play, listening to music, or have a quiet cuddle while you talk about all the best parts of the day.  Think quiet and soothing.  And away from other family members, you may be on vacation with.   Be the calm you want to see in your baby.  Once you are ready to put your baby down to bed at the end of your usual bedtime routine, understand that it may take your little one a bit longer to drift off to sleep, and they may even shed a few tears.  This is your baby working on adjusting to the new environment. Be a quiet, calm observer and offer support and reassurance if needed.  Soon enough, your baby will get used to the new environment and find it easier to fall asleep.  But I cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain your sleep expectations and not fall into bad habits that you’ll find it hard to move away from once you are back home.  

Ready to travel for possibly the first time with your little one? I, too, was a nervous nelly the very first time I traveled with my oldest daughter when she was just 9 months old.  I want to reassure you that good sleep can still be achieved on vacation.  Follow the tips provided and embrace this new adventure.  Ensuring that your little one gets some solid sleep will not only help them adapt to the new environment more easily but also allow the entire family to have a fun and relaxing vacation experience.  As an experienced pediatric sleep coach, I understand the challenges parents may face during travel and am here to offer support and guidance.  I encourage you to reach out to me to book a one-on-one strategy session prior to your vacation. Together we can create your travel plan to ensure you keep the sleep throughout your travels.  Let’s make this holiday a truly magical, memorable, and restful experience for the entire family.

Are you ready to get off the Crazy Train and have the whole family sleeping better? Follow the link below to schedule your complimentary consultation with Jennifer today!

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