Travelling or going on holiday with a baby/toddler can cause a lot of stress and usually routine and sleep flies out the door. Babies and Toddlers who are good sleepers at home and who have a good routine going usually adapt faster and more easily to a new environment and new time zones. If you’re planning a trip and you have time to prepare, I would highly recommend getting your baby/toddler in a good sleep routine before going on holiday/travelling.
- Get your baby in a good routine at least 2 weeks before travelling/going on holiday
- Change to a travel cot 2 nights before your planned travel. I always recommend taking your own travel cot with you on holiday. Put your baby in the travel cot for ALL sleep at least 2 days before your travel so he/she can get used to it. This will lessen the impact of the new environment. Don’t start co-sleeping if your baby cries a little bit the first couple of nights.
- Change to the new time zone asap. Depending on if you’re going backwards/forward in time, your baby might need an extra nap for the day or he might skip a nap. It is very important to follow your normal awake time between naps and bedtime. It’s also important to follow your normal routine at bedtime so your baby can recognise all the sleep cues. On the first morning, follow your normal routine at local time.
- Choose the right travel gear, it will certainly help smooth the journey. A baby sling/carrier will make it easier on buses and trains, it also keeps your hands free if you need your passport or pays for things.
- I always recommend taking a travel blackout blind (like the GRO blinds). Your baby’s sleep will be a lot better if the room is dark.
- Never forget your baby’s favourite toys and comforter.
- At your destination, try to get organised as soon as possible. Set up the room to make it as close to home as possible. Settling in will help you remain organised (and sane) throughout your stay.
- Book the right room(s) at your destination. If all of you are going to be in one room, that means no sleep. Consider booking a suite/connecting rooms.
- Stick to your normal routine and rules. Don’t bend the rules just because you’re on holiday:
No TV/iPad before bed
Try to eat as normal as possible (babies get upset tummies very easily)
Don’t give your toddler extra sugar (lollies)
Bedtime is bedtime. If bedtime is 7 pm at home, it’s 7 pm on your holiday. You are very busy and active on your holiday, your baby/toddler actually needs more sleep than at home, not less.
- Never over schedule your holiday. When your baby is overstimulated and is not able to have proper naps in a cot, he/she is going to become overtired and very cranky (not a good recipe for a nice relaxing holiday!!) Try to organise day trips after the morning nap (which is usually the best nap) and the second nap can be in a pram/car.
Travelling by car/flying:
- Try to travel at night if possible. It’s easier if the baby/toddler can sleep most of the time.
- Get a new special toy or colouring books. Something exciting and new that can keep him/her occupied for while.
- If at all possible financially, pay for a seat for your baby/toddler even if they are under the age of 1. Otherwise, you can end up very cramped on a full flight with a baby on your lap. Not to mention that you can’t fold your table down, which means mealtimes can be difficult.
- Have exciting snacks for the trip. Exciting food always keeps them occupied for a while. Don’t give everything at once, it might lead to cramps or vomiting.
It might be very scary to travel with your baby but the more you practice, the better your baby will become at travelling.
Enjoy your holiday!