Travelling with kids can be stressful, but there are lots of ways that you can prepare to make sure you have a relaxing and stress-free holiday by helping your baby adjust to sleep patterns.
Before you leave
Preparation is key! First off, write a list of everything you need to take. This might seem pretty obvious, but trust me it will make packing all the extra baby things you need so much less daunting.
Secondly, get your baby used to both the travel cot and the car seat the week before you leave. I would try fitting in one nap a day in either the travel cot or car seat. You don’t want to be getting them used to a new bed while trying to relax on holiday!
Naps while travelling
Plan your trip around nap times. If your baby sleeps well in the car then travel during their nap. If they don’t sleep well on the move then travel after a nap.
The lunchtime nap is the most important nap of the day so aim to have the morning and afternoon naps on the go and if possible, have the lunch nap somewhere stationary.
To help equalise the air pressure in your child’s ears and decrease ear pain while in the air, give them a bottle or breastfeed them during take-off and landing. Alternatively, sucking on a dummy or chewing a snack can also help.
It will be helpful to also keep them entertained. Some of my favourite in-flight activities include books, stickers, mess-free water colouring books and magnetic building blocks.
Adjusting to time zone changes
Luckily the fact that babies still have between 1-3 naps a day (depending on their age), makes it slightly easier for them to get over jet lag.
For time zone changes of only a couple of hours, I suggest slowly adjusting your babies schedule by 15 minutes a day the week prior to travelling, so that you have moved their timings closer to the new time zone when you leave.
For any bigger time zone changes I recommend extending their day with an additional nap in the early evening and pushing their bedtime back to between 9-10pm for the first night abroad.
Therefore, depending on what time you arrive at your destination, try getting your baby down for a 1-2 hour nap between 6-7pm. Then wake them up for some playtime and do your normal bedtime routine of dinner, bath and wind down between 9-10pm.
If your baby wakes overnight try to give them a small milk feed and settle them back to sleep as quickly as possible.
No matter how their night was, wake them up around 9am. Then over the space of about 3 days slowly wake them up earlier every morning and gradually getting them onto your normal daytime nap and bedtime routine. Do the same thing for the time zone change when you get back home.
Sleep environment when abroad
Create a similar sleep environment while you are abroad, to the one that you have at home.
Here are some tips to help you achieve this:
- Travel black-out blind
Try to make sure your child’s bedroom is pitch-black for daytime naps, as well as at bedtime.
A dark sleep space will limit distractions from the new environment and enabling easier settling. Furthermore, having a dark sleep environment allows the body to convert serotonin into the sleep hormone melatonin as too much light blocks the production of melatonin and signals to your brain that it is time to be awake, making settling and resettling challenging.
The room should ideally be an 8-9/10 on the scale of darkness – it should be so dark that you would struggle to see if your baby’s eyes are open or closed from a couple of metres away.
- White Noise
White noise is a fantastic settling tool, and acts as a positive sleep association in your baby’s sleep environment. It will also block out any eternal noise from other hotel guests for example.
- Used cot sheets
Babies are driven by smell. The familiarity of their own cot sheet will comfort them in the unfamiliar environments and help soothe them for a good night’s sleep.
Please get in touch with me if you need any support or advice about your baby’s sleep or book one of my consultations through my bloss profile for more tailored advice.
Safe travels !