Here are five tips and tricks that will help you and your child sleep well while on vacation:
Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, it's officially summer! We were so excited to go away for the long weekend. As the holiday was approaching many of the families I spoke with shared that they were nervous to spend the weekend away with their little ones who already don't sleep well. Some families even shared that they were staying home to avoid any issues with sleep. If you can relate to this, I'm here to share my top tips for restful sleep while on vacation with kids.
Tip 1: Take into consideration your child’s normal schedule
Don’t over-schedule! It can be tempting to try to pack too much into the week. There will be days where you may be out and about for most of the day, but I encourage you to follow a busy day with a low-key day to let your child adjust and have naps at home versus out and about. Too many days in a row of on-the-go or missed naps is a tantrum waiting to happen.
Tip 2: Be as consistent as possible with naps and bedtime
This means trying to respect your child’s nap time to avoid overtiredness. For example, if your child takes two naps a day, try to let your child take at least one of them at home. This way if one nap has to be on-the-go (in a car seat or stroller), at least your child got one restful nap.
You may be thinking, "But we have plans to be out and my child can just sleep in the car!" While this is true, motion naps are not as restorative and may cause your child to be exhausted when bedtime comes. You also may have a child that doesn’t sleep as well on-the-go (like my daughter) and prefers to sleep in a quiet, dark room. Avoiding overtiredness that comes with missed or short naps is really crucial to avoid a meltdown.
I also recommend keeping bedtime around the same time as when you are home, with a late bedtime being the exception, not the norm. Depending on the age of your child you can be a little more flexible with this. When we go away my 6-year-old gets to stay up later on occasion whereas my 2-year-old sticks with her normal bedtime.
Tip 3: Be patient and give your child time to adjust
When your child is in a new environment, it will take them some time to get used to the new space. It makes sense that your child may not sleep perfectly and there may be some disruptions in the first few nights!
In these moments, during the protests, crying and middle-of-the-night wake-ups, try to remember that your child is adjusting to a new sleep space. Respond to them how you would at home. Wait at least 5-10 minutes before responding, and if they're still fussing, give them some comfort and reassurance that they’re okay-- but nothing more than that. Any bending of the rules can cause these issues to continue for the length of the trip as well as when you get home.
Tip 4: Bring your child’s comfort items
In order to make your child more comfortable in a new space, you want to try to mimic their sleep environment at home. This makes them feel safe and secure! Below is my list of travel essentials that help promote quality sleep:
- Something to blackout the room: Foil or black trash bags to cover up windows are cheap and easy solution. Even better, I recommend the Gro-Anywhere blind or SlumberPod, I have both!
- Sound machine and/or wake-up clock (anything that’s part of your little one’s routine at home).
- A portable baby monitor. I use our Nest camera when we travel. It connects to WiFi wherever you are and you can see the feed on your phone with their app.
- If they have a pillow, lovey or blanket they use (12 months+), absolutely bring that!
- Depending on your child's age and what's provided by your accommodations, a pack-n-play or portable crib may be a must.
Tip 5: Have a separate sleep space for your child
Perhaps the most important tip: Have a plan for where your child will sleep! If you have not co-slept with your children in the past or if this is something you worked hard to break, don’t go back to this while on vacation. As soon as you let your child in bed, this will become the new norm and your child will not want to go back into the crib or their own bed once you are home.
Depending on where you stay, most hotels will provide a portable crib or pack-n-play for your convenience. There are also lots of local companies that rent these items out and even deliver them to where you are staying! Bringing a pack-n-play is also an inexpensive option (and if you are flying, many airlines don't charge for checking baby items).
If you will need to share a room with your child, you may be panicked thinking, "How do I create a separate sleep space for my child?"
There are a few different options here. You can try to divide the room by hanging up a sheet (if that’s possible). You can also have the pack-n-play tucked away in a bathroom or closet (not ideal, I know); this way your baby will have a dark space to sleep and they won’t wake up to see you in the middle of the night.
Above all these suggestions, I highly recommend purchasing a SlumberPod. I bought one for my toddler, and I seriously wish I had one sooner! It is truly worth the investment, and you can use it from four months through toddlerhood.
Not only does it create a separate sleep environment for your child, but it also blocks out light and prevents those early morning wakings that are brutal on vacation.
Why I recommend SlumberPod:
- It was created by moms for moms!
- SlumberPod aims to make traveling with little ones less stressful and more restful.
- SlumberPod is a bottomless portable privacy pod that completely encloses standard playards, mini-cribs, and select toddler cots — giving a baby or child their own dark and private sleep space (like at home).
- It gives families the freedom to sleep in the same room and travel with confidence.
- I have one myself and this was a total game-changer for our last vacation!
- SlumberPod passes all applicable consumer product safety tests for baby products.
- It folds down small enough to fit into carry-on luggage and is easy and quick to assemble.
- It has a clear plastic pouch for a baby monitor, a pouch for SlumberPod's Fan, as well as ventilation panels for additional airflow.
Still on the fence? Just think back to your last vacation. If you stressed about being able to make the room dark enough for your child, SlumberPod will solve that problem. If you worried about having a separate space for your child and what to do if they wake up and see you right next to them, SlumberPod will solve that problem. Save $20 when you enter happilyeverafter at checkout!
I hope these tips will help make your next vacation more enjoyable for everyone— parents and babies alike!
Katie Roeder is the founder of Happily Ever After Sleep and lives in Wallingford, PA with her husband Brian and 2 girls, Sophia and Skylar. Skylar just turned 2 and is the reason she got started with this sleep business. Katie and Brian met while working together at Target. She worked there for almost 11 years before leaving to find a career that would allow her to spend more time with her girls.
Both of her daughters' sleep was off track and after finding a sleep program, IT WAS LIFE CHANGING! Seriously! She knew that she wanted to help other families achieve this same freedom.
Katie loves to help exhausted moms (and dads) get their children sleeping independently, all night. When you work with Katie she will get to know you on a personal level, create a customized sleep plan that will work for your family and help you achieve your sleep goals. Follow HappilyEverAfterSleep on Instagram here!
Note: Guest blog posts are shared for informational and educational purposes and may not reflect the official policy or position of SlumberPod (parent company, Dovetail Essentials, LLC), our employees and/or contractors.
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This blog post was originally published 08/04/2020 but has been updated for 2022.