5 Ways To Keep Your Baby or Toddler Sleeping on Holiday

Dreading going on holiday with your baby or toddler and potentially ruining their sleeping schedule? Aren't we all... Sleep consultant, Hadley Seward, gives her advice on how to enjoy your time away and keep little one asleep.

Remember when summer holidays were filled with breezy days on the beach with a few Mai Tais and a good book? Chances are, once kids entered the picture, those long, lazy days turned into early dinners, diaper rash from sandy bums, and sleepless nights. Suddenly it’s no longer vacation--it’s just a trip.

But all’s not lost. While a kid-friendly holiday will never be as relaxing as during your pre-baby days, there are many steps you can take to prevent your trip being ruined by an overtired, cranky child. Below are my favorite mum hacks to return from your vacation relaxed.

  • Plan your travel days well. Gone are the days when you can land in Barcelona at 6pm and be on the plaça enjoying tapas by 6:30pm. Try to schedule your day so that you arrive at your destination at least a few hours before bedtime. This is even more important if you’ll be renting a flat, as you’ll need to check in with the owner, grocery shop, etc. Give yourself plenty of time so that when bedtime rolls around, you’re not frantically shovelling uncooked pasta into your hungry child’s mouth.

Recreate your child’s sleep environment at your destination. Babies and children are sensitive to new environments. To avoid them sauntering into your bed overnight, try to recreate the major elements of your child’s home sleep environment at your hotel or rented flat. Is she used to sleeping in a darkened room? You may need to bring portable blackout curtains. Is she used to white noise? You may want to download an app for your phone or pick up an inexpensive travel white noise machine. Is she used to sleeping in her own room but you’re suddenly roommates? Create a visual barrier between your bed and hers. (Oftentimes you can find a quiet nook in the room or, worst case, there’s no shame in putting the crib in a large, well-ventilated bathroom).

  • Maintain your sleep routine. If your child is used to a 15-20 minute bedtime routine at home, you can’t expect her to suddenly be cool with a hurried 2-minute version of that. As you plan your day, try to leave yourself enough time at the end of it to have a relaxing moment together before bedtime. Your overnight sleep will thank you!
  • Prioritise naps, prioritise fun. If you’re on holiday with a child who naps, particularly one taking multiple siestas per day, no one expects you to sit in your hotel room for most of the trip. That being said, if your child skips all of her naps, the likelihood of eventual meltdowns or lots of overnight awakenings is quite high. Try to find a balance:  Some days, prioritise naps in the hotel or flat. Others, prioritise fun for the whole family.

  • Dress your baby for the weather. One of the most important aspects of safe sleep is preventing your baby from overheating during naps or overnight. If you’re traveling to a tropical climate, dress your baby for sleep in a short-sleeved bodysuit (or even just a nappy) and a lightweight sleeping bag. Look for a sleeping bag specifically made for hotter climates, which is designated by a 0.5 TOG rating. I’m a huge fan of the MORI summer Clever Sleeping Bag, which will keep your baby cool and safe all summer long.

Hadley Seward is a certified sleep consultant and mama of two. Based in New York City, she helps exhausted parents around the world get their child’s sleep back on track. Get sleep tips at Bonne Nuit Baby and follow her adventures at @_bonnenuitbaby

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