Make Traveling with Baby and Breeze
After teething and nap transitions, the most asked question I get about baby sleep is "What do we do when we travel?" But, let's be real: traveling with a baby will likely never be trouble-free. Between changing time-zones, changing blow-outs in tiny airplane stalls, and changing sleep environments, you're not likely to come back from vacation thinking "that was the most restful week of my life". But, you can at least have a game-plan and maximize your efforts to make it as restful and fun as possible. So, with summer fast approaching and vacations booked, it's definitely time to talk about how to make traveling with a baby (or toddler) as easy as possible.
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1) Set up the new sleep location to be as similar to home as possible.
If your bambino sleeps in a dark, quiet room of his own at home, recreate that as much as possible in the hotel or at grandparent's house. Check ahead of time to see if the room he will be sleeping in is dark enough, and if not, seriously bring blackout curtains (or use tin-foil, if needed!) This will also help with setting their internal clock to the new time-zone, if you're going to an earlier time zone. Don't forget to pack the white noise machine, or bring a travel version. And definitely assure your baby (under 1 especially) will still be sleeping on a firm, flat surface, on his back, free from excess blankets and pillows.
2) Follow the same routine as at home.
Even though traveling to see family or for vacation can seem like a great excuse to throw routine out the window, just remember how much your little ones thrive on routine. This is especially true when they're in a new environment, around new people, and possibly already overtired from missing naps and being jet lagged. Continue to allow enough time for your babe to settle down for sleep. Bring your same books from home, sing the same songs, and stick to the same plan for sleep as you normally would at home. Meaning, don't start co-sleeping or rocking to sleep just because you're traveling.
3) Stick to your schedule as much as possible.
If baby needs 2 naps a day at home, please don't expect him to go all week living off of one nap without having fall-out elsewhere. I do get it- nap schedules can really cramp your vacay-style, but so can a baby who is keeping you up all night from being so overtired after missing half of his normal day sleep. Try to strike that balance of allowing for some changes in routine to do some special activities then offering your babe chances to make up for sleep. So if your babe is out at Disneyland all day and barely napping, then really try to make up for it with an earlier bedtime, or staying home the next day to let him catch up on sleep and get back on track.
4) Travel with a sleep-trained baby.
Many of the above suggestions won't really matter if your baby already isn't a good sleeper, even when at home. Although I wouldn't recommend traveling right in the middle of sleep training, as that can really throw off your progress, doing it at least 2-3 weeks before you go can make your trip much more enjoyable. On the first night of your trip, just stick to the same plan as you follow at home, and typically after night 1, the rest of your trip will be pretty smooth. Then you can really enjoy lying on the beach!
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4) Invest in the best items for travel.
I absolutely think it's worth the investment to purchase some travel-specific items to make your life a little bit easier while traveling, since, let's face it, you already have an added stress of traveling with a baby or young child, no matter how well behaved or great at sleep they are!
Portable sleep items like this Nuna Portable Playyard is way easier to set up than your traditional Pack n' Play and much more compact, plus comes with a machine washable mattress cover (anyone with an old Pack n' Play knows how gross those spot-clean-only mattresses get), and it comes with every accessory you need to basically bring a portable nursery with you wherever you go. Check it out here. (You may want to clip a blanket to the outside of one side of the cot, safely out of their reach, so that baby can't see you if you're sharing a room.)
Also completely worth the investment is a light-weight, foldable, easy-to-manuever travel stroller. If you're like me, you have an awesome every-day stroller that is just a little too big to want to take on airplanes and try to get through security. Having something like the UppaBaby G-Luxe Lightweight Stroller to use through the airport and once you get to your destination can make life a lot easier. Uppababy is super high quality and will not disappoint. With the awesome recline of the seat and extra large head cover, babe will be able to take the inevitable nap-on-the-go with ease.