Travelling with kids and maintaining a sleep routine
For most parents, travelling and sleep routine don’t go in the same sentence…
But you know what? They can!
Obviously once you have kids, your holidays do tend to look a little different to what they did previously, especially when you have a baby, however this doesn’t mean they can’t still be enjoyable.
When it comes to travelling with kids, it’s natural to feel a bit of anxiety about the change in routine, sleep schedule and the logistics of getting from A to B without forgetting something off the long list of things to pack. This is especially true if you are onto a good thing when it comes to your little one’s sleep. The last thing you want to do is rock the sleep boat.
As a child and infant sleep consultant and mum to 3, I am here to tell you that you can still have that (well deserved!) holiday and maintain your routine. Here are my tips to keeping things as close to ‘normal’ as possible, while enjoying some R’n’R:
#Tip 1 – Throw the rule book out the window
Try not to stress too much about sticking to your normal way of doing things, travelling at the best of times can be stressful, let alone throwing a baby in the mix. Our number one rule when travelling is, the rulebook goes out the window. If you find you need to feed or rock your little one to sleep or use a dummy, even though you normally don’t please don’t let this worry you. It will keep the peace and restore the calm, and remember, you will get back on track when you are home again.
#Tip 2 – Lay The Groundwork
If sleep is going well at home, and your baby is on a consistent nap and bedtime routine, laying the groundwork before you holiday make for a much more enjoyable trip for everyone.
Try and allow your little one to get use to sleeping in their travel cot at home in their own familiar environment, as opposed to springing this new cot on them in a strange environment. I would recommend doing this for 5-7 days before you travel. Be sure to pack your cot sheets from home, as this will instantly make your little one feel calmer and more familiar with their sleep space.
Tip #3 – Learn their awake ‘window’
Becoming familiar with your baby’s age-appropriate awake window will be a saviour when routine goes out the window. It will allow you to know when your little one is due for their next nap if their typical schedule has fallen off track.
Tip #4 – Keep consistent at bedtime
When you arrive to your destination, be mindful that your little one is probably a little curious, so give them some time to explore their new environment before trying to settle them for bed. To help keep the calm and predictability at bedtime, try and use the same wind down routine you would at home. This will be your baby’s familiar sleep cues and will prompt them to know it is sleep time.
Tip #5 – Go with the flow at nap time
I want you to know, that naps don’t have to be in the cot, you can still get them in while out and about in the carrier or pram. If they are a little shorter than they normally are, this is ok! Just adjust your little ones awake window accordingly, and if you know you are going to be having a later than usual night, try to get a late afternoon nap in before you leave or in the car or carrier on your way to dinner etc.
Tip #6 – What do we pack?
Packing for a holiday can be so overwhelming at the best of times, let alone when you are packing for a little one. We recommend not overthinking this and packing more than you need. We have created a shortlist below of the essentials we recommend packing. Some of these will be pretty self-explanatory, but some may seem a little unnecessary. But, let me tell you, you will be so thankful you packed that video monitor, such as the CuboAi. When your little one is tucked up all snug, you can sit back and finally relax with your family and friends over that Christmas lunch, knowing your little one is sleeping soundly while in an unfamiliar place, as opposed to needing to check on them every 2 minutes. Plus, if using the CuboAi, it’s pre-recorded lullabies and white noise will be a soothing addition for bub in an unfamiliar environment.
Some essentials to pack:
- Cot and cot sheets
- Their pillow if they use one at home
- Comforter/ dummy etc if applicable
- Sleeping bag or swaddle
- Baby monitor to give you peace of mind
- White noise machine if your monitor does not have this function
- Baby carrier/ traveller stroller
- A portable blockout blind/snoozeshade suitable for your pram and travel cot will be your best friend. It will help to block out light and also remove any stimulation when trying to get those naps in.
When it comes to parenting, you really need to pick your battles. If this means you have to stay calm while your toddler has a meltdown mid-flight or you have to hold your baby trough a three course dinner, this will be better than the alternative.
Holidays and travelling with kid, can be stressful, but it can also be a beautiful time away from the chaos of everyday life and all the other routines we’re bound to! So, take a deep breath, let the routine slide (slightly) and go and make those memories.