Once your child is sleeping well, the last thing you want to do is rock the boat in any way. But the reality is, we want to get away (maybe not as much in this current climate), but visits to family or enjoying a getaway can be necessary. Whether it’s a weekend away at grandmas or a week or two on vacation, our concerns remain:
1. Will our child sleep OK in this new environment?
2. Will she go back to sleeping well when we come home?
I hear you and I’m going to share my Travel Best Practices when it comes to sleep. It’s not always going to run smoothly, but following these sleep practices will help you have the best success at the end of the day.
Travel and Sleep Best Practices:
1. Bring all the Essentials
Sure, packing for your child can be daunting. There is never enough stuff, from diapers - to formula – to sleepers. But depending on where you are going, some items can be purchased on your travels and you may not need to worry in advance too much, like diapers and wipes. But your personal sleep essentials, put those at the top of the list. Is your child obsessed with sleeping with a certain lovie or blanket if they are older? Take it! Is there white noise when they sleep? Take it! Do they wear certain nighttime diapers to help with leakage? Take them!
2. Create a Similar Sleep Environment
If your child has been sleeping well in their environment for a while, chances are they are very used to the elements you have in place, and creating a similar environment on vacation will help cue their mind into sleep. So I suggest, packing their sound machine, swaddle/sleep sack, any lovies (my kids call them puppies…) or pillows if they are older. If your child is in a crib, I also suggest bringing a sheet, so the familiar smell of their bed will act as a comfort.
Also, if your child is used to sleeping in their room alone, if doable, try to create a similar atmosphere. Can you partition off the room? Is there a spare room or alcove you can use as a bedroom? If your child wakes and sees you there, she will likely want to get up and be with you. Keeping the separation during the night will help her get back into sleep again when she wakes.
3. Keep an Early Bedtime
Of course while on vacation, timing could be off and there are plans you have to keep. So, if you miss a nap here and there or bedtime is slightly later a night or two, that’s OK. BUT, I recommend trying for an early bedtime where you can, this will keep your child rested if the days are long. Getting the extra rest in at the front end of sleep, will also help if the change causes some early wake ups or if your child has a bit of overtiredness from the beginning of your travels.
4. Relax and Enjoy your Time!
Sleep away from home is never simple, and while you may do your ultimate best to instill good sleep habits on vacation, it can still not go according to plan. If this happens, just do your best and enjoy the time away with your family. When you get home you may need to sleep train again and get your kiddo back on track. I’m always here to help if you find yourself here in the end.