Guest Post by Sleep Expert Amy Lage
This weekend marked the unofficial start of summer! With the wind in our hair, and the sun shining on our (sun-screened) faces, who doesn’t love a little summertime adventure? It’s time to take some time to relax and have some fun. The seashore, the mountains, the woods, it really doesn’t matter as long as we are outside enjoying the season. For those of us with small children, however, the thought of a summer escape may be a bit more daunting. Before you pack up the car or book your flight make sure you check out my WRB Summer Travel Tips. These three simple rules will help to ensure that this summer, the living really is easy.
1. Stick As Closely as Possible to Your Baby’s Schedule
Help Make the transition easier: Even though your baby will be sleeping away from home, that shouldn’t mean that their schedule is left behind. Keeping their nap times and bedtimes consistent will help them to assimilate to their new environment more quickly and will make sure they stay a happy baby rather than an overtired cranky one.
Travel during sleep times: In order to make sure naps aren’t missed, plan your travel times around nap times. If driving, allow your baby to take their nap on the go but at the usual time. A few minutes before naptime do a modified version of your regular soothing routine so your little one understands it time to go to sleep. If flying during naptime, most little ones sleep great on the plane (it must be that constant humming sound ;). Wearing your baby in an ergo like carrier is a great option as they are secure, yet comfortable. If taking a long flight or a red eye, call your airline in advance and request a sky cot (a small travel bed which is installed in front of your seat – most airlines provide these for free).
Schedule naps into your daily plan: Once you have reached your destination, try to have naps occur in your hotel room if possible. This will help your baby become more familiar with their new sleeping environment as well as provide them with more restorative sleep. If hanging around the hotel is not in the plans, make sure you have your baby in their car seat, stroller, or carrier in plenty of time to catch their nap on the go. While sleeping in a stationary crib or bed is best, for a few days while on vacation it is ok to have your little on nap on the go.
Need to miss a nap: If despite your best efforts a nap just isn’t possible on one of your vacation days, don’t sweat it. Instead opt for a super early bedtime to make up for that missed sleep. It will help to make sure your little one stays on track and doesn’t become overtired.
Manage expectations: If you are visiting with friends or family make sure they are aware of your baby’s schedule. Grandma may roll her eyes when you tell her that bedtime is 6:30, but at least she will plan an early dinner so your little one is not fussing through dinner and keeping everyone from enjoying their meal.
2. Create A Sleep Environment That Resembles Home
Home away from home: Bring along all your baby’s usual sleep time props – sleep sack, lovey, pacifier, white noise etc. This will help them feel as comfortable as possible while away from their crib.
Make your phone do double duty: If your white noise isn’t portable, download a white noise app on your smart phone and select a sounds option that is similar to your one from home.
A comfy crib is easier than you think: Call ahead and request a crib for your room. Most hotels do have quality full size cribs on hand – you just have to ask! Bring along your baby’s own mattress pad and sheet for piece of mind. If you prefer to bring your own travel crib and have not yet made the big purchase, I love the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib. Or if you already own a pack and play – invest in a mattress topper so your baby can sleep more comfortably on the go.
Block out the sun: If your child is used to a very dark sleeping environment, come prepared. They stick on with their own self-adhesive and cut to fit any window. Or check out these fantastic travel blinds from the Gro Company. They come in a compact travel bag and stick to any window using suction cups. They are a bit more of an investment, but reusable, easy to pack, and a snap to put up and take down.
3. When You Get Home It’s Back to Business as Usual
The best laid plans: No matter how well you plan ahead, life happens and things can go awry. The key to getting back on track as quickly as possible is easier than you think – just resume your old routine! A few days consistently back to the norm and you will have your great sleeper once again.
Early bedtime saves all: A great tool to help expedite this process is an early bedtime. An overtired child has a much harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. If you opt for an early bedtime the first few nights home, it will be beneficial in helping your child catch up on any missed sleep and get back to their typical sleep habits.