Making sure your child sleeps well on holiday is really important, both for your sake and your little one’s!
Certified child sleep expert Lucy Shrimpton, also known as ‘The Sleep Nanny’ has put together some excellent travel sleep tips for parents who are taking their tots on holiday, to make sure everyone gets the rest they need. Take a look at her top tips below…
Travel Sleep Tips For Children
It is one thing getting your little ones sleeping soundly at home but what happens when you travel or spend a few days away from home? Even one night of disruption can lead to a week of getting back on track so how can you help your children to sleep well when travelling and slip straight back to the usual routine when you get back home?
Here are my top tips for sleep when travelling with young children…
- It is unlikely that you will be able to stick to your little one’s usual sleep schedule if you are on the road because the motion of the car may cause her to sleep more than usual or take a longer nap. Just let her sleep as she wants to and then adjust accordingly when you arrive at your destination. So if she’s not slept well on the journey, get her to bed nice and early. If she has had plenty of sleep on the journey and it’s getting late in the day, you could wake her up for the final part of the journey and then go ahead with the usual bedtime.
- Changing time zones can affect all of us but they can certainly throw the schedule of babies or young children. Don’t stress over it too much though because after you spend a day travelling, things will be a little out of whack anyway. My advice is to switch to local time as soon as you arrive and do everything as you would normally but on the new time.
- Try to create a sleep friendly environment with some familiarities from home. If you have brought any bedtime teddies or comforters along or the pillow from his bed or a nightlight from home, these could all help to set the scene. A portable back out blind might help darken a particularly bright room and have a play with the air conditioning if applicable, to get the temperature just right, otherwise you might wake in the night to a sweaty hot or freezing cold room.
- You might have to rearrange some furniture to make it work. If your child is used to being in his own room but has to be in the same room as you during your stay, see if there is anything you can use to create a division or screen. Thumb tacks might be handy to pin up a sheet or move things around to create a private little corner for your child.
- While you are away is not the time to try something new for the first time like putting a toddler who usually sleeps in a cot, into a bed for the first time or putting a child on a top bunk for the first time. The last thing you need to be doing on a family break is training a toddler to stay in bed or dealing with injuries from falling out of bed onto a hard floor!
- Don’t attempt to start potty training right before you travel. In fact, I wouldn’t even advise starting within 3 months of travelling. Get it all done well before you go or tackle it after you get back. There is only so much hand luggage you can take and you don’t want to run out of changes of clothes or have soggy ones to store.
- It is okay if the holiday routine is not exactly the same as the home routine. Just because you let your child fall asleep in the pushchair every night on holiday while you go out for dinner, does not mean he will expect the same when you get home.
Lucy’s essential travel items:
- Teddy, dummy or any other comforter that your little one requires.
- If your baby is formula fed, take enough for the duration of your trip plus a little more. The same brand may be difficult to source locally and your baby may want to feed more than usual in a warmer climate. I highly recommend taking the premixed cartons of formula rather than powder.
- Similarly, take enough nappies for the whole trip if you are unsure whether they will be stocked at your destination.
- Pack a bed sheet or a pillowcase or something with the familiar scent of home to help your little one feel secure in a strange place.
- Some hand washing laundry liquid will enable you to keep clothes clean rather than over pack to play it safe. It will give you peace of mind that you will not run out of clean clothes for your little one.
- Take a few warm tops even if you are heading to a warmer climate. Evenings can be cool and air conditioned buildings can leave little ones feeling chilly.
- If your child uses a sleep/wake clock at home, take it with you.
Lucy has recently published a book containing lots of other useful tips for parents, so keep an eye out for it!