It’s summer here in the U.S., and for many of us, summer means vacation! Whether you’re off to a tropical resort, to a cabin in the woods, or just to your parents’ house, vacation offers you the chance to escape your real life and spend a few days or weeks relaxing.
Unless, that is, you’re vacationing with a baby or toddler. If that’s the case, scratch the “relaxing” part; your vacation might feel like a whole lot of work! As this Momastery.com post puts it,
“DUDE. Vacation is hard. Everyone came WITH me. And they all need the same amount of food and grooming and such as they do at home.”
And let’s not forget the sleeping, shall we? Nothing throws off a naptime routine quite like uprooting your little one from her familiar surroundings and whisking her away to a new place.
Think she’s going to nap well? Think again.
We know vacation can destroy your little one’s naptime schedule, leading to short naps (or no naps at all!). We’ve been there. We’ve felt the pain first-hand! So we’re offering you some simple ways to make naptime as painless as possible while your family is traveling. Put these 5 tips into practice the next time you’re traveling with your baby or toddler, and make naptime more restful for everyone.
1. Stick to the schedule as much as you can.
If you want your baby or toddler to nap well while you’re traveling, you’re probably going to have to stick to his normal schedule as much as you can. So if he normally naps mid-morning and mid-afternoon, do what you can to make sure he’s able to nap at those times during vacation, too. Don’t plan activities that’ll force him to miss his nap; instead, try to prioritize his sleep.
Of course, some circumstances might make this impossible, and that’s okay. If a nap can’t happen when it “should” every once in awhile during your trip, simply roll with it, and then do your best to make sure the rest of his naps are restorative.
What’s more, if you have a highly-adaptable baby, sticking closely to the schedule might not be necessary. Your baby might sleep beautifully on a beach chair, or in her stroller. If that’s the case, congratulations! Enjoy. The rest of us are just a little jealous.
2. Pack some good napping products.
We shared this post a few weeks ago on fantastic napping products. And guess what? Most of these are totally portable, so make room in your suitcase! The loveys, the noise machines, the swaddle blankets, and the stroller covers should all fit nicely in a bag. You can even find portable room-darkening blinds; the Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind has suction cups that stick to any window, making it a great option for traveling. (Note: our readers in the U.S. won’t be able to purchase these portable blinds, unfortunately. But if you’re in the U.K., Australia, or New Zealand, you will!)
3. Make the napping area feel like home.
There are limitations to this, obviously; you can’t exactly pack your baby’s or toddler’s entire room and haul it on vacation with you! But you can take small steps to make sure that the place your baby or toddler naps while you’re traveling feels homey and familiar. That might mean bringing along his crib sheets and bedding, or packing the lullaby CD that you always play for her at naptime. And of course, you’ll definitely want to pack all of your little one’s comfort items — loveys, stuffed animals, favorite books, etc. Surround him with things that feel like home, and it’ll help him settle down and nap when he needs to.
4. Lay some groundwork before you leave.
This is especially important if you have a slow-to-adapt baby, or a toddler who’s really sensitive to disruptions in the routine. If that’s the case, starting a few days to two weeks before you leave, begin napping your baby or toddler in whatever she’ll be sleeping in while you travel (if possible) for at least one nap per day. Set up your pack-n-play or portable crib in her room, and have her take her naps there. This will help her adjust to to a new sleeping arrangement before you hit the road, which will be easier on everyone.
5. Give yourself a pep-talk.
Even if you take every single precaution you can, there’s still a good chance that your baby or toddler just isn’t going to nap as well on the road as he does at home. Such is the reality of vacationing with a tiny child! So be prepared to be flexible, and to make the best of whatever comes.
And then, when you get home, schedule yourself a pedicure, or a massage, or an afternoon out — anything that’ll help you feel relaxed. After all that vacationing, you’ll probably need a break.
“After traveling, the biggest thing we see in the Helpdesk is that even if schedules were perfect on vacation, traveling is tiring for everyone, including your baby. Plan for an earlier bedtime for several nights to help your baby ‘catch up’ on sleep and rest up!”
How do you help your baby or toddler sleep well when you’re traveling? Share your tips!
Travel plans in your future? Make sure you check out Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-to” of good baby sleep. With over 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (for babies) or The 5 Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (for toddlers). Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. Or, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a sleep plan; sometimes you’re just close to the situation or too tired to!