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Holidays, vacations, company, and sometimes just random life occurrences upset your rhythms and routines. But when you’re at home, you can minimize the impact those events have on your children and their sleep patters. However, traveling is a whole different experience.
If you’ve just gotten your wee one used to going to bed well, sleeping soundly, and nap times are finally stress free, the last thing you want to do is through a wrench into the works…which is exactly what traveling can do if you’re not prepared ahead of time. The fear of sleep regressing during the holidays, over a vacation, or other major change in lifestyle is a well founded one…but not insurmountable.
First of all, if you haven’t started sleep training yet and your trip is coming up, don’t start now. Just continue to go with whatever flow you’ve been using and start when you get home. There’s no need to go through all that just to have a change set you back.
But what if you’ve already sleep trained your child? Well, there are ways you can minimize the impact travel will have on them.
If you’re driving, the first trick to try to drive during baby’s normal nap times. That will help them keep to their schedule (and make your drive more pleasant!). While normally we don’t recommend car naps (they can be a sleep prop), this is a good solution when you are traveling.
If you’re flying? Well, there’s not much in your control. You can ask your pediatrician for some suggestions, but most parents will agree that the goal here is simple: survive the trip. That might mean extra special snacks, a game on your phone, or a simple new toy. You know your baby, so just do what you can.
If you were to brainstorm all the reasons your child might not sleep well during travel, I bet you’d come up with a great list of things: new space, weird sounds, different bed, etc.
But all of those are relatively easy to deal with. Your biggest challenge will actually be people.
That’s right. Well meaning grandmothers, siblings, cousins, friends, and on the rare occasion a passionately opinionated acquaintance (or worse yet, stranger) are about to become your biggest challenge to helping your child sleep well.
Everyone wants your baby awake and playful, touching and cooing and tickling and generally overstimulating her until she’s exhausted and too tired and overwhelmed to sleep.
When you state that it’s time for bed, you’ll likely hear entreaties of “not yet” or “we’re having so much fun” or something similar. But the truth is, you know your baby and what’s best for her. This isn’t a negotiation; this is just good parenting — and you’re a good parent!
So smile and gently, but firmly, do your thing. And when they “just want to peek”, let them know that you’re on top of it and don’t want to risk an accidental early awakening.
“I’ve put you guys in the room with the king bed so you can all sleep together.” In your mind your hear the Jaws theme and you see all your hard work getting chomped to bits.
Just smile and get to work adapting the space. After all, you know you can’t do that, so it’s time to find a solution.
Here are some that may work, depending on the room:
Remember, no sleep props, keep your bedtime routine consistent, and do your best. You’ve got this! You are a great mom (the best one in the world for your baby) and it’s okay to turn a deaf ear to the opinions that are bound to be swirling around you. You are protecting your baby’s sleep because you know that is the same as protecting her emotions, happiness, health, and development. Good job!