Expect the Unexpected: Traveling with Young Children

Today’s blog is a guest blog by Lauren Stevens, a client of mine more than SIX years ago! She recently embarked on a two-week European vacation with her husband and six-year-old son. Lauren’s here today to share how hopping continents and time zones went and how she handled major changes in her son’s typically consistent bedtime routine.

(more…)

5 Tips for Traveling with a Baby

When you’re traveling with a baby, be it a vacation or a quick overnight trip to visit family, you need to keep your baby’s sleep routine in mind. Trust me, organizing your trip around your baby’s sleep schedule will make for a more enjoyable time away from home! Just think about how you’ve felt in the past when you ignored your own sleep schedules, booking a red eye and returning to work that day, or forgetting to factor a time change into your travel plans — imagine your fatigue and irritability multiplied by ten, and that’s how your baby will feel.

Traveling with a baby can be a breeze if you follow these 5 tips!
Original photo by Eduardo Merille adapted with text overlay

To help the entire family enjoy a restful trip away, I’m sharing 5 tips for traveling with a baby:

1. Pack for comfort

Yes, you should be packing comfortable shoes and clothing if you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing, but you also need to keep your baby’s comfort in mind. When you’re traveling with a baby, make sure you pack her favorite sleep items, whether it be a comfort object, such as a small blanket or stuffed animal, or a favorite pair of pajamas. You want to do as much as you can, without packing the entire nursery, to recreate your baby’s normal sleep experience. Don’t have room for your white noise machine? Download one of the many white noise apps available for phones and tuck your phone away in the room to drown out any unfamiliar noises.

2. Take it easy

Try to fight the urge to schedule lots of fun adventures during your time away, filling almost every moment of your holiday. Yes, you’re excited, you’re finally getting away! However, your baby will be unable to keep a harried and over-scheduled pace, and will likely make you regret it (trust me). By all means, plan fun outings and adventures, but space them appropriately, allowing time for your little one to get the rest she needs.

3. Consistency is key

You’re on vacation to have a break from your everyday routine, but the routine you don’t want to break is that of your baby’s. Try, as much as possible, to honor your child’s nap and bed times. An occasional nap in the car, or later bedtime likely won’t completely derail your little one, but you want to try to keep sleep schedule deviations to a minimum. In addition to trying to keep your baby on the same sleep schedule, you also want to keep your sleep routine the same. If you usually do bath, bottle, book and then bed, don’t forget to pack a book or two to maintain that routine.

4. Maintain usual sleeping arrangements

Again, consistency is key when traveling with a baby. If you’re not a co-sleeping family, don’t start while you’re on vacation. Most hotels offer cribs, and many families find that finding hotels that offer suites help make traveling with a baby much easier. With two rooms, able to be separated by a door, you’ll be able to put your baby down at her usual time, without forcing yourself and your partner to turn in for the night at 7pm. Keeping your sleeping arrangements the same as at home also makes it easier for your little one to transition to and from home while traveling, and less likely to develop a habit of climbing into bed with mom and dad.

5. Be patient

Be aware that even if you follow your baby’s sleep routine and schedule closely, your little one may still be a bit unsettled in the new environment, possibly crying or waking at odd hours. Remember how you felt sleeping in a strange place as a child, and be patient while your baby adjusts. Treat sleep disruptions as you would at home, going in every 5 minutes or so for reassurance, but not bending your normal sleep rules.

The more you take it easy while traveling, and consistently stick to your baby’s usual routines, the better time your entire family will have. Remember, I’m only a phone call away, should you need guidance. Safe travels!

Vacations for Kids – Healthy Sleep Tips While On The Road

Summer is in full swing and you know what that means…VACATION!  While the idea of traveling on your much anticipated holiday is very exciting, for some parents it can also be met with a bit of anxiety.  The reasoning might very well be because you have worked hard to get your little one on a great schedule and sleeping through the night.  Now that everyone’s sleep is back on track you probably don’t want to do anything that is going to cause you to undo your great work.  Below are some of my tips and suggestions to make your vacation one to remember while also creating a great little traveler.

Don’t Over-Schedule!

Vacations for Kids - Healthy Sleep Tips While On The Road
Vacations for Kids – Healthy Sleep Tips While On The Road

Many parents want to make the most of every moment of their vacation.  While seeing the sites and enjoying the attractions are why you planned your family’s vacation, keep on the agenda time every day (preferably at the same time) to allow for rest and relaxation.  A great time to pencil this in is early afternoon just after lunch.  It allows everyone to recharge their batteries for the remainder of the day while also allowing your little napper the sleep time they need.  And speaking of naps…

Limit The Number of Naps That Your Baby or Toddler is Taking in The Car

The occasional car nap is okay once in a while, but if you find your little one napping often in the car over the course of your vacation, you may run into difficulty getting them to take naps in their crib or bed once you have returned.

Avoid too late bedtimes

A slightly later bedtime during your vacation is okay, but if you consistently keep your little one awake well past their bedtime, you are setting the scene for the perfect toddler meltdown storm.  And we parents like to avoid that at all costs.

Keep to the same bedtime routine and rules while away on vacation

Although you might be miles away from home, continuing with the normal bedtime routine will help set the stage and expectation of sleep.  Babies and toddlers love to test boundaries, and if given an opportunity during the vacation, you could be looking at bedtime battles every evening and wakings during the night.  If night wakings do occur, respond as you would at home and guide your little one back to sleep independently.

Create Your Child’s Own Sleeping Space in Your Home Away From Home.

If they are small enough to use a portable crib for sleep, I suggest bringing along your child’s lovey, blanket or sleep sack, and your own crib sheets (and pack n play if possible).  Familiar sleep items and the familiar smell of your child’s sheets will help reinforce the sleep expectation while also guarding against the temptation to bring your baby or toddler into bed with you.  Speaking of bed sharing…

Don’t Bed Share with Your Little One if You Don’t Normally Do It at Home.

If your child spends a week in your bed while on vacation they will surely want to continue this new standard once they are home.  Besides the possible safety issues I can guarantee that your baby would much prefer sleeping with you than in their own crib.

If possible, Allow Your Child Time to Fall Asleep Alone in Your Hotel Room.

Now, I am not advocating leaving your child unattended.  But I am suggesting that once you put your little one down for the night you sit right outside your hotel room door or on your balcony (preferably with some prearranged wine and snack via room service) for at least a half hour to allow your sleep trained child to fall asleep without distraction.  Once they are asleep you can move back into the room and get ready for bed yourself.

Portable White Noise

Hotels and the area around some vacation houses can be rather noisy throughout the night.  If your little one normally listens to white noise while sleeping at home, I strongly suggest you continue use during your vacation.  I am a huge advocate of using white noise in a child’s room to reduce possible waking in the night due to environmental noise.  I know that Amazon.com has quite a few portable options to choose from that can fit right in your baby back.

Enjoy yourself and your family

Vacations are a great time to reconnect and refresh.  Enjoy the time you spend together and make the most of the experience while also keeping a watchful eye on your little one’s sleep needs.

Sweet Dreams!