Holiday sleep tips for wee travellers
Travelling with babies, toddlers or young children can be tricky when it comes to sleep.
There are few things to keep in mind when helping your child adjust to sleeping in new environments and time zones, the first being that every child is different. Some children take it all in their stride and easily adjust. Others need a little more help. Remember, it’s normal for sleep to be a little unsettled, but if you just stick to routines as much as possible while away, you can get things back on track as soon as you’re home.
Time zone changes and new routines
No one wants to wake up at 4.30am on holiday! The best tip in dealing with jetlag is to try and adjust your child to the new time zone as soon as possible. If your child usually wakes at 6.30am at home, wake him/her at 6.30am (new) local time on the day you arrive
(ideally, unless you all need a day to recover after a lot of travelling.)
Nap times will be out a little the first few days. Try and adjust to local times as much as possible. You might have to endure some grumpiness as your child gets into the new rhythm, so if you need to, top-up some sleep in the pram or car.
Make sure not to let him/her nap too late in the day because you want them asleep at usual bedtime (6.30-7pm at home = 6.30-7pm local time).Try not to let your child become over-tired, and make sure they have enough rest while away. A well-rested child can enjoy the day’s activities, will be better behaved and more adaptable to all the changes a holiday brings.
If your little one is only recently sleeping through, you can expect some regression. They’re so little that a new environment is a big deal. The most important thing to remember is to not fall back into old habits or sleep crutches you’ve both worked so hard to get rid of.
If you’ve stopped feeding in the night, try not to go back to it. If you do need to help them along, do some soothing/patting/calming. If you need to go back into the room to settle, try sitting at the door rather than staying right there with a hand on him/her.
If you have to room share with your child while you are away, explain to them that it’s just while you are away and they will be back in their own cozy bed with all their toys in just a few days/weeks. Explaining to them helps make rule-breaking less confusing and helps them adjust more easily when back at home.
Take a piece of home with you
There’s no such thing as packing lightly when travelling with children. Make sure to add to your list a night-light and some of your child’s books and toys. Don’t forget to take any comforter/soft toy your child sleeps with.
By Cheryl Fingleson
Find out more about Cheryl by visiting www.thesleepcoach.com.au.