How to Sleep Soundly when travelling with young children

December is a busy month for everyone, with never ending list of parties, gift exchanges, holiday shopping, decorating and travelling to be with family and friends. Travel can be overwhelming, especially with toddlers and babies. If your child is a great sleeper, then, their routines and sleep is so important to you that you probably don’t want to go anywhere, in case you undo all your hard work!

I should know.I have an upcoming, international trip which is sending shivers down my spine.

Though I am a sleep expert, it is still overwhelming to think about where my son is going to be sleeping and how he is going to cope with the time change when we get to our final destination. He is a great sleeper, but how is he going to cope without his familiar sleep environment? So I decided to come up with strategies to help myself and others out there that are probably in the same situation:

Travel Kit (Pack n’ play or portable crib)

1. Sleeping in the same bed is a big no-no. Your toddler might decide that they really like this new routine and you might have to start from scratch all over again. If possible bring a portable crib or a pack n’play that can be set up in the room.

2. Bring your child’s favorite lovey/toy/blanket, so they feel secure, whatever their sleep environment might be.

Create a partition (for babies 9 months and older)

3. If you have just trained your child to sleep well or they have always been a good sleeper, then the thought of having them sleep in the same room as you when you get to your destination probably unnerves you. If possible try to set up a separate sleeping area for them in a separate room.  If you are all in the same room, if you can get a standing screen or sheet to hang between the bed and the crib, just so that there is a partition. The last thing you want is for them to wake up and get excited when they see their two most favorite people in the room.

Honor their sleep routines

4. Be consistent with bedtime routines and naptimes. You might be tempted to pack in more things into your day, but children do not handle over-tiredness well. So plan your around their sleep schedule. If you skip a nap or bedtime gets pushed one night, it’s probably ok. But if you do this 2 or more days in a row, then you are going to have a child, who is screaming the house down and leave you wondering why they have forgotten their sleep skills.

Be consistent

5. Children love to test boundaries. They understand the rules when they are at home, but they do not know they apply wherever they are. So they might be a little upset on night one at grandma’s house and wake up a couple of times at night. But if you stick to your normal routine, check in on them every 5 mins, they will learn to fall asleep on their own quickly.

6. Once you return home, implement the old routine as soon as you get back. If things have all fallen apart during your travels, remember that your child has proven to you that they are capable of falling asleep on their own and sleeping through the night, so they can do it again.

Happy travels and sleep soundly!


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