Holidays – they can be the best of times or the worst of times. Add in an overtired, over stimulated, cranky child, then the latter prevails more often than not. What can parents do to ensure that your holiday travel falls into the best of times category? It’s more simple than you think.
Rest up before Travel: The single BEST thing you can do is to ensure that your child is well rested on travel day! The hustle and bustle preparing to go out of town can be taxing . . . but please, take the time to ensure that your baby is getting adequate naps and nighttime sleep leading up to travel – you’ll thank yourself later.
Airlines: What strikes dread in the hearts of 99.9% of parents? Airline travel with a child under 3! If this applies to you, do whatever it takes to keep your baby happy - the “rules” go out the window. Bring on the tablets, the cell phone videos (my 20-month old is obsessed with watching videos of herself and her cousins), pop up books, stickers, puppets . . . whatever will keep your child entertained and stationary. If at all possible, choose a direct flight. Mentally weigh the money saved by taking a connecting flight versus your time and sanity. Enough said.
Accommodations: If your baby sleeps in a separate room at home, he will do much better having his own sleeping space when traveling. Some hotels have suite options with separate sitting areas or larger bathrooms that can accommodate a travel crib or pack and play. The slumberpod (www.slumberpod.com, discount code BEDTIMEBOSS) is also an excellent contraption to ensure your baby has a “separate” sleeping space and a pitch black environment. If baby is over six months old, I highly suggest you practice with the Slumberpod to familiarize baby with it.
Pro Tip: If borrowing a hotel crib, call the hotel prior to your stay to reserve the crib to ensure one is available and set up upon check in. Also, do an internet search for baby rental companies in your travel area. Most major cities have them and you can stock your hotel or in-law’s home with age appropriate toys and baby items!
Time Zones: Use your home time zone on the day of travel and adjust to the visiting time zone the next day. Based on the time difference and your duration of stay, some parents opt to split the difference, or slowly adjust to the new time zone over a few days. If traveling internationally, your best bet is to just do it cold turkey after night sleep. Try and wake your baby by 10am the first day in the visiting country so as to help your baby sort day from night.
Naps are Golden. Given all the activity and excitement of holiday travel, it can be really tempting to skip naps here or there or push out bedtime. I can assure you, doing this repeatedly will cause major meltdowns and regret. If your baby is accustomed to two or more naps a day, please take at least one nap a day in the hotel room for more restorative sleep; the rest can be on the go.
Bring all the Things! If you have one child or five, the amount of “stuff” you need to bring seems endless. A local baby gear rental company can take care of a lot of it, but bring the essentials that are non-negotiables for your child’s sleep e.g. portable sound machine (don’t forget the charging cord), extra PJ’s, sleep sacks, Loveys, etc.
Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows: Make sure the whole family is getting outside, soaking in the sunshine and getting some sort of physical activity. If it’s too cold to be outside, play indoor games. Nothing helps kiddos tire out more than physical activity. Don’t Stress + Enjoy! Will your child’s sleep be the same on vacay as it is at home? Heck no! Will you bend the rules a bit and maybe throw in a sleep prop or two? Probably.
The good news, once you get back home you can revert right back to your routine, and in about five days baby should be right back on track too.