Many parents worry about how a family holiday may affect their child’s sleep routine. Your holiday is likely to be much more enjoyable if you plan your trip so that there is as little disruption to your little one’s sleep pattern as possible.
Here child sleep consultant Judy Clark shares her top tips for making sure your child has everything they need to be happy, healthy, and alert during your travels:
A common mistake among new parents is trying to cram as much fun and adventure into their holidays as they might have done back in their “child-free” days. The truth is, when you travel with a baby you can’t plan to swim with dolphins in the morning, go souvenir hunting in the early afternoon, launch into parasailing in the late afternoon, and then enjoy dinner and hotel entertainment in the evening.
It’s far better to slow down the pace of your trip, schedule regular nap times and stick to your child’s usual early bedtimes – just like you would at home. Plan a fun activity for each day rather than trying to do it all at once.
Be consistent with sleep times
An occasional nap in the car or a later-than-usual bedtime probably isn’t going to do too much harm, but if your baby’s nap times become erratic and she starts going to bed later than usual for several days in a row, you may be heading for trouble. Inconsistency makes it far more likely that your baby will become so overtired that a complete meltdown will be inevitable.
For children who no longer nap during the day, however, it could help to encourage them to have a little siesta while on holiday, especially if you have activities planned for the evening.
Be patient while they adjusts to their new environment
Your baby might be the best sleeper in the world at home, but when you arrive in a strange environment things can be very different. It’s normal for young children to test their sleep boundaries when they’re somewhere new. They won’t necessarily understand that the same rules apply whether that at home, in a villa or at an auntie’s house.
In a strange place, your baby begin to cry at bedtime or wake up at different times during the night. The best way to handle this behaviour is to react in exactly the same way you would at home. Go into their room or to their cot every five minutes or so to offer a bit of reassurance, but other than that, don’t bend your rules. If you remain consistent, within a night or two your little one should have adjusted to their new environment and will hopefully begin sleeping well again.
Remember to bring your child’s comfort item
If your child has a cherished comfort item, it will almost certainly be a huge help in making your baby feel safe and secure enough to fall asleep in a strange environment.
Forget it at your peril!
If you don’t usual co-sleep, don’t start now
Another frequent mistake parents make is to begin sharing a bed with their baby or toddler while traveling. Unless you want to make co-sleeping a permanent arrangement, it will be far less disruptive for your child if you put them to sleep in a cot as usual. Although it may only be for a few nights, if your baby decides she prefers sleeping with you, you may find it difficult to convince her to go back into her cot once you get home.
Thankfully, most hotels these days will have a suitable cot you can either use for free or rent. If this is not an option, invest in a good travel cot and take it with you.
Is this information useful to you and your family? Please share your feedback regarding your sleep routine in the box below.