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Traveling as a family often happens in the summer or during the holiday. How fun! But, what to do about your baby / child’s sleep? We have been on numerous trips when our sons were younger and I found it gets easier every time. So, in this article, I thought it would be helpful to give some tips for traveling with your baby or toddler:
- Depending on age, prepare a “fun” pack for the car or plane trip. Have snacks (special occasion snacks became a hit like fruit snacks when he got older), books, new toys, crayons, washable markers, some sort of travel drawing toy like the Aquadoodle Travel N Doodle, and a book of photos to remind him/her of home. If you are not opposed to them watching TV, a portable DVD player is a lifesaver, at times, especially for very long trips or layovers. I recommend this player, the Sony DVP-FX820 8″ Portable DVD Player. I really like the Brainy Baby DVD seriesand love the Leapfrog Learning DVDs.
- Of all the things in your “fun pack”, take one thing out at a time and drag it out as long as possible. (Like I had to tell you that!)
- Try to plan your snacks around take-off and landing, if possible. At least offer milk or water to help with the ears popping. My son never had any problems, but you just never know.
- Plan your travel time accordingly with nap or bedtime. If your baby / toddler sleeps in the car, plan to be on the plane or in the car during the naptime. But, if your child is like mine and won’t sleep in the car, prepare to leave right after his first nap of the day. That first nap is usually the most restorative and the most needed in terms of overtiredness for the rest of the day.
- Unless you are co-sleeping, you can bring a Graco Pack ‘n Play or travel crib. Even if you have somewhere for baby to sleep at your destination, bring along any sheets, familiar stuffed animals, or loveys to make a “foreign” place as much like home as possible, for sleeping.
- Call ahead to make sure your flight is on-time, if you are flying.
- Decide whether to bring your car seat. If you are leaving the country, you might check to make sure the car seat will even work. When my son was about 9 months old, we went to Mexico and wouldn’t you know the back seatbelts didn’t “lock” like they do here in the U.S. I later found out you are supposed to bring something to “lock” the seatbelt with the carseat. Plan ahead for that, unlike me.
- Board early or not on an airplane? If you have a carseat, you probably want to board early to get it installed. But, at the same time, that is just longer you need to entertain your baby on board while everyone else gets seated and the plane takes off. Keep it in mind, depending on the age of your baby / toddler and energy level.
- Sleep train or not during vacation? It depends on where you are going and for how long. If you are going to grandma’s for a month, it is unlikely you want to undo all your hard work and risk overtiredness for a whole month. If you are going camping in the woods for 4 days, it is unlikely you won’t do anything you have to in order to make sure your baby does not wake the neighboring campers. Overall, I’d say you try to stick to routine as much as humanly possible, but also have fun!! The good news is a previously sleep trained baby will bounce back after vacation fairly quickly.
- Here is a packing checklist for babies and for toddlers.
My #1 tip is to relax and have fun! Most of the time your child will surprise you just like mine did. And, even if you have a rough trip, you will never see those people again, so don’t worry too much about it and just focus on you and your family. You deserve a nice vacation, so try not to stress out too much about it.