The biggest travel day of the year is upon us and baby's sleep habits and routines are often thrown out the window during travel. Here are five simple tips to help baby sleep better so parents won't need a vacation from their vacation.
1. Practice at home.
- Many times babies are not used to sleeping in a travel bed or pack-n-play so you can put baby in a travel bed or pack-n-play for naptime at home in the weeks leading up to the trip.
2. Keep sleep routine as close to home as possible to help baby feel safe and secure.
- If weather permits, dress baby in pajamas/sleepsack/swaddle blanket that he/she is accustomed to.
- If renting a full-sized travel crib from a hotel, bring bedsheets from baby’s crib at home to recreate familiar sleep environment.
- Sing the same bedtime songs you sing at home and read favorite books.
3. Try to stay on baby’s time.
- If possible, try to keep naptimes and bedtimes as close to the same schedule as at home.
- When traveling across time zones, gradually adjust baby’s bedtime in the days leading up to the trip.
- Some parents like to travel at night so baby can sleep and wake up in destination refreshed. This can lead to an exhausting first day of the trip. If you can “tag-team” with your partner by alternating napping and caring for baby during the first day, then traveling at night could be a possibility.
4. Once at the destination, do not rely on carseats for safe sleep.
- While it is tempting to let a sleeping baby spend the night by in carseat or stroller, carseats can sometimes cause breathing problems in babies.
- Follow the recommendations of the American Association of Pediatrics and the “Back to Sleep” campaign by creating a safe sleep environment and putting baby on back for sleeping.
5. Slow it down.
- Don’t expect to have a jam-packed site seeing schedule. All the new sights, sounds, and experiences are very stimulating and exciting for baby. Baby could get fussy if overstimulated and too exhausted.
- Remember that sleep begets sleep. Keeping baby awake longer than his/her bodies need may work for one night or one nap, but fighting against baby’s natural rhythms leads to meltdown.
- While it is nice to have alone time with your partner, caring for a baby can be even more exhausting than usual when traveling. We like to also remind parents to not stay up too late!