Traveling to meet family and friends is a big part of the holiday for many families.
And just because you are traveling does not mean that you cannot keep your children in their usual sleeping plans, although it is definitely a challenge.
Here are some tips to get the sleep you need to enjoy your vacation.
- If possible, you can plan trips during a nap or around your child's bedtime. Many children will get the most sleep on a red-eye flight.
- If you travel east, you can stay in your western time zone. For example: if you live on the West Coast and your child usually goes to bed at 7pm and wakes up at 6am, she will now go to bed at 10pm, EST and wake up at 9am EST.
- The key to doing this work is to make sure the room she sleeps in is very dark early in the morning and to use white noise to soak up ambient noise.
- For those traveling east to west, your child will probably wake up early in the first days of your trip. To adjust, help her reach as close as possible to her normal nap and bedtime closures without melting down.
- If you do want your child to adapt to the new time zone you are in, exposing her to a lot of natural daylight during the day – especially between 6 pm and 3 pm. West.
- This tells the brain that there is still light out during a time when it thinks it should be dark
- For her, your child can relax in a new place, add another 10-15 minutes to your child's settlement routine. Going through her familiar routine helps her get sleepy even though she is in a different environment.
- Bring your child's favorite toy or stuffed animal away from home. If you use a crib during the trip, bring along a crib that you haven't washed in a few days, so it smells familiar.
- It is perfectly fine to do naps while in the car or stroller while traveling. If their naps are shorter than usual, put the bedtime earlier with 15-30 minutes so your baby doesn't get tired.
- If your child has trouble settling or waking up at night, start with minimal help and increase your interactions as needed:
- Place your hand on the baby's stomach while you are nursing; pick her up if needed, calm down and return to her crib.
If all else fails, help your child sleep but you can – you will not enjoy your trip when you are asleep. And travel is not something that happens all the time, so a few nights of warning sleep will not undo all your hard work. Knowing how to sleep is like cycling – when your child knows how to do it, they will not forget. Just go back to good habits as soon as you get home, so you can adjust for a day or two if there is a change of time.
Are you looking to help your little ones sleep their best? Check out Dream Lab for customized sleep plans and practical guidance from the world's best sleep experts.
Enjoy your vacation!