You’ve booked your vacation, packed your swimsuit, and now its time to lay back, relax, and enjoy that well-deserved Pina-Colada. But…who am I kidding? If you’re reading this, you’re a parent and that’s the last thing you’re thinking about as you booked this trip. Chances are, you’re actually way more nervous, than you are excited. As much as vacations with babies can add a tiny bit of chaos, with the right expectations (and a little bit of wine), it can also be an incredible and memorable experience.
Before you begin to create your itinerary, remember that nothing can lead to a more crankier baby than one who is overstimulated and overtired. Even though I want to tell you that vacation means breaking all the rules and figuring it out when you get back, vacations are the top two reasons why good sleepers will “go bad” and you’ll be right back to square one. So, here are a few simple rules to remember while you’re soaking up the sun.
- “Schedule” in a nap.
Plan your day to include at least one good nap, and one on the go. If your day includes sight-seeing, plan your longer car ride for the morning nap because this is the nap that will be the longer of the two and will be the most successful. The morning sets the tone for the day so make sure not to skip out on this one. For the second one, opt to do a stroller, car ride, or wear baby while out and about, making sure to supervise.
2. Create a separate space for baby to sleep in
If you aren’t currently co-sleeping, then a vacation wouldn’t be the time to start, especially for the little ones. Make sure to take your pack ‘n play and set up your baby’s space in a separate area than where you sleep. Often times, hotel rooms will have an entry way as you walk into the room, just before you get to the actual beds, that makes a perfect space for baby to sleep. As crazy as it sounds, you can even set up baby in the bathroom because its a perfectly dark space, and it allows for you to be able to talk and move about when baby is sleeping. If you’re in a house setting, a large walk-in closet can serve as a small baby room.
Toddlers and little children can often do well adopting the idea that whatever happens on vacation, stays on vacation. They are able to transition back to their own bed after sleeping in mom’s and dad’s bed during vacation. In you’re not up for taking the chance, pack a toddler cot. It can be a fun experience for your toddler.
3. Bring all of your little one’s favorite sleep items
It can be scary to be in an unfamiliar environment, so make sure to pack all of your little one’s favorite sleep items. This means that you should absolutely pack up their current crib sheets rather than a freshly laundered one. Of course, don’t forget to pack your white noise, lovey, and favorite jammies.
I know that your packing list is long, but if you want to maintain little one’s sleep, leave that one extra pair of shoes at home and replace it with some of these items. You’ll thank me later.
Pack ‘N Play- Even though you can request a crib at most hotel rooms these days, they can be limited so make sure to bring along your Pack ‘N Play. Most are very compact and are easy to set up. Pack and play mattresses (or lack of, right?) can be uncomfortable so if you’d like to add some extra comfort, this one is great because it has a carrier and folds right up.
Toddler Cot– If you opt out of sleeping next to your little one (because if this is a vacation, then you actually want to sleep without a knee pressed up against your cheek right?), you can pack up a toddler cot.
White Noise– To block out your noisy hotel neighbors, taking your white noise is a must! The Hush Portable White Noise machine is great because it’s light weight, has three different settings, and fits right into your diaper bag.
Gro-Anywhere GroBlinds – Hotel rooms are pretty good about having black out shades, but if you’ve rented a home, taking GroBlinds is great to create a dark space to avoid baby from waking you up too early in the morning (especially because the idea is to catch up on some sleep).
Extra IPAD- Without having to pack up your monitor system from your house, you can still monitor baby by bringing along an extra IPAD and downloading the app “Cloud Baby”. This app allows you to connect two devices together in order to allow one to act as the camera in order to monitor baby.
Tips for Flying with Little One
I am not going to lie, this is the part of a trip that worries me the most, being on a flight with 300 other strangers that probably go onto a plane hoping there won’t be a single baby on it (or you might be one of those hero-strangers who ends up on a cover of the newspaper for helping a flustered parent. Yay, for humans like you!). Let’s chat about how to make this as smooth as possible.
- Pick a morning flight-
This is when baby is well-rested and happy. It’s not likely that your baby will end up sleeping on the flight, especially if it’s a short one. If you intend on flying internationally, chose the flight that will be during bedtime so hopefully the sleep pressure will naturally help baby fall asleep easier.
2. Just get baby to nap, somehow
If your flight is during nap time, get baby to fall asleep any way you can. I promise, to save you the stink-eye from every passenger, I am giving you the green light to rock, feed, do whatever you need to, just get in a nap. Do offer a feed or pacifier during lift-off to avoid discomfort from the air-pressure.
3. Bring on the distractions
If you’re certain that there won’t be any naps on this flight, bring all the distractions you can. This would be a good time to bring on a new toy, download little one’s favorite cartoons and games, and bring on the yummy snacks (we all know handing a child a bag of fruit snacks can buy any mom at least 15 minutes). Do offer a nap when you land, or an early bedtime to avoid a cranky toddler.
4. Adjust to the new time zone ASAP
If you’re flying into a completely new time zone, adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible. This means that offering an extra nap in the day, just to make it to the new bedtime. Jet lag may very well cause some night-wakings, early morning rising, and overall fussiness. The circadian rhythm will adjust in no time.
Broken all the Sleep Rules while on va-cay?
Remember how some toddlers adopt the motto of “whatever happens on vacation, stays on vacation?” Well…it doesn’t always work out quite as nicely. If sleep became too difficult and you ended up helping your little one fall asleep throughout your trip, often times these new habits can follow you home.
If we’ve worked together to get your little one sleeping, pull up that handy sleep plan and go back to the basics. Speed up your process and allow 2 days for each area of support and be out by day 5.
If your not-so-okay-sleeper at home, just became an even worse sleeper after your vacation, then maybe it’s time we get this situation sorted out once and for all. This is the perfect opportunity to set up a call and get your family the sleep you all deserve.