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Baby and Child Holiday Travel Sleep Tips

With the holiday season upon us, there are so many things to get in order.  The presents wrapped, the clothes packed, arrangements for the pets, and remembering to bring your child’s favorite toy.   Just thinking about all of that can make you feel tired and the last thing you want when you reach your destination, is to not to have a plan in place for your little one’s sleep.   As a Certified Infant and Toddler Sleep Consultant, I work with many families to help them teach their children to sleep well and travel is always a topic of one of our conversations.  Here are six tips that can help keep your little one sleeping well during the holidays. 

1.  Where is your child going to sleep?

If your child sleeps in his own room at home, it would be ideal that he sleeps in his own room when you are away.  Try to book a hotel suite instead of a single room, if there is a walk in closet use that as a temporary nursery.  If your child has to be in the same room with you, do something to put some space between his pack and play and your bed.  If your child is too big for a pack and play but too small for a regular sized bed, get a twin size air bed that you can bring on your trip.

2.  Create the same sleep environment as home

Bring your child’s favorite lovey and blanket.  If your child has a white noise machine in his room, bring that along too.  Be sure the room is as nice and dark as it is at home.   If you aren’t sure how dark it will be where you are going, bring a couple twin black flat sheets and clothes pins so you can pin the sheet up to the window.

3.  Honor your child’s sleep needs

If your baby takes two naps a day, plan your day around those naps.   Keep his normal sleep schedule as close as you can.  If you need to be in a car for a longer period of time and your child will sleep in the car, try to have your car ride around his nap time.   Finally maintain a good bedtime, very close to what it is at home.  Babies and young children’s bodies are sensitive to sleep changes and making too many changes to his sleep will be really hard on him and therefore hard on you.

4.  Do the same bedtime routine

A bedtime routine is so powerful in helping a child unwind and get ready for bedtime.  Keep the same bedtime routine as you have at home when you are travelling and plan on slowing things down 10-15 minutes before you start the bedtime routine so your child doesn’t think he is missing out on something and then struggle to go to bed.  Also pack a couple of special bedtime books from home to read during this time.

5.  Time Change

Get to the new time zone as quickly as you can by having your child take naps and bedtime around the same time as at home.   Expose them to some bright light in the morning and get some fresh air and activity in the afternoon to help his body clock adjust.  Also dim the lights about an hour before bedtime.

6.  When you get home

No matter what happened while you were away, go right back to business as usual when you get home.  If your child’s sleep was off while you were gone and he is overtired, plan on earlier bedtimes for a few days to help get him back on track.  It is best for your child to get him back on track as soon as you can.

Hope that helps make your holiday travel go smoothly.   I wish you a very safe and peaceful holiday season.

About the author

Shannon Glenn

Shannon Glenn is the owner and founder of Sleep Well Children Consulting and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist. She is dedicated to helping parents assist their children and babies in developing healthy sleep habits. With a B.A. in Psychology, Shannon has worked extensively with children and their families for over 15 years in a variety of settings.  She has been offering sleep solutions for over six years.  

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