As travel begins to slowly reappear you might suddenly be faced with stress around how to travel with your baby, how to help your baby sleep on vacation and of course where your baby can sleep when travelling.
Fear not, combining years of baby and child experience your Baby Sleep Coach has come up with the answers to new parents five most asked questions about baby sleep whilst on holiday:
Will Travel Ruin Baby’s Sleep Routine?
This is likely the most asked question relating to travel and holidays that I get asked. The answer is no, a week or two of a slightly altered routine won’t put your efforts to waste and, if they do throw your baby off their usual sleep schedule, it shouldn’t be too hard to get them back on track. When you return from your holiday ensure you begin your ‘pre-holiday’ sleep routine the first night back, this helps to show that when you are at home it’s business as usual. The best way to help baby sleep when travelling is to create a ‘home from home’ environment wherever you are staying.
Here Are A Few Top Tips:
Use your own travel cot where possible and practise beforehand – if you can’t take your own travel cot (such as if you’re taking your baby on a plane) then check with the hotel the size of the travel cot they will be providing and take your own sheets. If you can use sheets that have already been in the baby’s cot then they will smell of home and be more comforting. If their cot mattress is a different size to yours it’s definitely worth purchasing new sheets that will fit to be able to provide your baby with this home comfort.
Don’t forget the favourite features of their bedtime routine! Whether your baby has a favourite soft toy, baby comforter, bedtime story, their top baby bath toy, a white noise machine or even a favourite pair of pyjama’s make sure to pack it! If you wear their pyjama under your top for few days, your baby will find your scent very calming, relaxing and soothing.
Travel black-out blinds – these can be a lifesaver when staying somewhere other than home. If your baby is accustomed to a dark room then you will want to purchase one of these before staying away.
An Air BnB is a great way to create that ‘home from home’ environment as they tend to have more home comforts and features than a hotel room.
Where Does Baby Nap When On Holiday?
Every baby is different, especially when it comes to their sleeping habits. By now you will know if your baby is likely to sleep on the move or whether they absolutely need their beds. If you want to be out and about during your travels then practise with on-the-move naps prior to your trip.
Our Suggestions For On The Move Napping For Active Parents Include:
Pram or Buggy – if you’re going somewhere warm ensure you have a form of shade available either from a parasol or an extended pram hood. Avoid hanging a muslin or blanket over the front of the pram in order to create shade, it can get very hot very quickly under there.
A baby carrier – There are baby carriers available for a wider range of baby sizes on the current market. If you’re going to try a baby carrier for the first time, ensure you do a trial run to check the settings are comfortable – you definitely don’t want to injure your back halfway through a hike and still have a baby to carry around!
In a car seat whilst travelling – the gentle vibrations of a moving car are often ideal sleep promoters for babies and if you are transporting yourselves by car it might be a good idea to do so at nap time so they don’t get restless. Please remember to never leave your baby in a hot car as the temperature can rise very quickly once the air conditioning is turned off. Make sure to take frequent breaks and get your baby out of the car seat, if you doing long journeys
In the hotel/room – don’t be afraid to sacrifice some of your usual exploration time for a nap in the hotel room. Some babies will only sleep in a cot but if you are travelling in a warm environment the break from the heat might do you both good.
How Can I Help Baby Sleep in Travel Cot?
Travel cots aren’t the most luxurious of items, you can buy additional mattresses for most but if you are travelling abroad taking a mattress, even a fold-up one, is likely not an option. In the absence of an extra mattress – and don’t be afraid to ask the hotel for one – we recommended padding the bottom of the cot with a couple of flat bath towels and putting the sheet over the top. This should help baby to sleep better, don’t be tempted to use soft duvets or thick blankets as baby’s sleep surface should be flat and firm – but the towel should just ensure the base of the bottom of the cot isn’t poking into babies back.
If your little one is a toddler then consider whether a mattress on the floor would be more comfortable for them as the travel cots can be quite flimsy and a determined toddler could knock one over. If your toddler isn’t used to sleeping without the sides of a cot then ensure you line the floor next to them with a duvet or towels as hotel floors tend to be much firmer than bedroom carpets!
Do You Keep To Baby’s Bed-Time Routine When Away From Home?
- Where possible, try to keep the night-time routine similar such as bath, book and bed. If you do need to adjust bedtimes to make the most of your time away then don’t panic too much – it shouldn’t harm your usual routine when you return! Just make sure that on your return home you go straight back to the usual bedtime or baby sleep schedule. This will help differentiate between ‘holiday bedtime’ and ‘home bedtime’. I have fond memories of the excitement of staying up past bedtime when on holiday as a child.
- It is also common to find that holiday excitement, activities and sunshine tire your children out quicker. After all, Vitamin D can help your baby sleep so as you’re more likely to be outside, they are more likely to tire out – we’ll let you decide whether that is a help or hindrance to your time away!
- You know your child and how they will cope best however, we would recommend if you are staying up later to try and be near to your hotel. That way should the signs of over-tiredness begin to creep up you can quickly get them to bed, don’t forget that they can start the night sleeping in the pram whilst you’re out and when you get them back to your room you can just transfer them in their bed. There’s nothing wrong with letting baby snooze in the buggy whilst the adults enjoy a nice meal on their holiday.
What Should My Baby Wear To Bed On Holiday?
- What to dress your baby in for bed can be a minefield of questions for any new parent as the weather changes, so what to dress baby in for bed when travelling can be a really stressful packing question!
- To practise baby safe sleeping guidelines, I always recommend that once they are big enough (check your sleeping bag manufacturer but most are from 8lbs) they sleep in a baby sleeping bag or baby gro bag. You can get lower tog sleeping bags up to even 0.5 tog, which is very thin. Alternatively, you can let baby just sleep in a vest or nappy if they will, my baby would never go to sleep without some covering so we would get the lowest tog possible and keep baby in nappy underneath if it was still warm.
- If you’re worried about it being warm, taking a room thermometer is a good idea. You can take small ones that are just a piece of card that will give you a good enough estimate to make a decision. You can use a fan in the baby’s room but make sure it’s not pointed at them and, as usual, keep them away from heat sources and direct sunlight. The Lullaby Trust has a some great advice on keeping baby safe during the summer.
Let us know if this has helped you or if you have any further questions about getting your baby to sleep when travelling, in the comments section below.
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For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our 1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.
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