Holidays are on the horizon. Covid-19 has interrupted, postponed and cancelled many, but now it's happening and maybe you're thinking of going away?
Bags all packed. Hand luggage ready. Time to have some much needed R&R with the family.
I've got you covered with all the handy tips to you all having some great sleep while you're away from home.
Going on holiday can worry a lot of parents: What if they don't sleep? Will they eat? Will they nap? What will I do if they don't? How am I going to enjoy myself?
All valid questions, but keep reading to find out how you can help your little one get some sleep, so you can all enjoy the break and stress of being at home. After all, holidays are meant to be stress free.
If you're child is generally a good sleeper at home, it's likely they will sleep while away from home.
If you have done or are doing any form of sleep training, it's good to keep that consistency going for a good few weeks before going away to ensure your child has full adjusted to their new routine and their sleep skills are well practiced before changing the sleep environment.
My top tips:
Keep your child's sleep environment as similar to home as possible - make sure you pack any essential items that will give the comfort and familiarity. It could be as simple as a soft toy, or even their sleeping bag. Even taking their baby monitor, night light, wake up clock (if they have one) can all be really helpful for them. Also remember to pack some of their favourite books for bedtime and any bath toys they enjoy playing with. While being in a new environment for them is daunting, all these things can really help settle them. If you're likely to be napping on the go and you've gone somewhere sunny and hot, make sure the buggy has a sun shade and keep them well hydrated.
Give them their own sleep space - remember if they don't share your bed at home, they will likely be more comfortable with their own sleep space on holiday too. While you may not be able to have separate rooms, check with your place of stay if they have a spare bed, or cot bed you can use in the room. Always check the cot provided as not all countries have the same safety standards that we do. Get creative in the room and try to create some sort of 'divide' in the room to try and minimise any disturbances your little one may get from you, especially if they are used to sleeping in their own room at home. If you want to share a bed with your child on holiday, that's absolutely fine, but if it's not something you want to do back at home, try to make that clear to your child and when you return home, you may need to revisit sleep training them just for a few days.
Make a holiday routine and be consistent with it - while it may not be practical to have the same routine you do when you're at home, it's still important to have some form of routine and be consistent with it while you're away. Find a time you want them to be asleep by, that suits the family for dinner in the evenings and work their bedtime routine around it. If your child is very young, you could even use their buggy (with the lie-flat seat) for them to stay asleep in while you eat if it is very late. You may even get to enjoy most of your dinner without them being disturbed. The older babies get, the more difficult this can be to achieve, but a reclining pushchair is a suitable alternative for the older babies and young toddlers too.
Shift their body clock to the time zone you're in right away- When travelling abroad, the journey itself can knock a child's schedule right off, so it's almost like you've been given a blank canvas to work with. It's much easier to use this to your advantage and get their schedule on track with the new time zone straight away, rather than trying to gradually change it. You may only be away for a week, and by the time you've changed it (if you've taken the gradual approach), it'll probably be time to leave and come home. Keep an eye on any sleepy cues, and if they do need any extra sleep to top-up, then allow them to have it or you can even bring bedtime forward if you need to. Remember, their bodies will acknowledge the sun being out or not and their bodies natural 'body clock' will help give them cues too, but this is not to be relied on solely. Having a consistent routine will really help them adjust quickly.
Save the best tip for last - E N J O Y yourself. You're away from home, spending quality time with your family, so enjoy it and revel in it. Ok - so having routines and keeping consistency are important, but it's also important not to let them dictate your holiday out of your comfort. Your child will quickly adapt when they get back home, even if it means returning to some form of sleep training just for a few days.