How to Manage Your Baby or Toddler’s Naps During Holiday Traveling

Managing Naps During Holiday TravelsHere in the United States, we are right on the verge of one of the busiest traveling seasons of the year – Thanksgiving weekend! In another day or so, lots of us in the U.S. will pack up and travel to see friends and loved ones, and to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with them.

Of course, while all that traveling can be fun (provided we don’t have any weather delays – fingers crossed!), it’s by no means relaxing. And if you are traveling with a baby or a toddler in tow? Not relaxing at all. In fact, your holiday weekend may end up feeling like a whole lot of work!

One of the toughest things about traveling with a baby or toddler is the fact that your little one’s normal sleep schedule is bound to be thrown off (sometimes way, way off) by your travel plans. Nighttime sleep may be affected (for instance, if you will be staying overnight at a relative’s house, the different sleeping arrangements can cause issues). And it’s almost guaranteed that naps will be affected. Nothing throws off a naptime routine quite like uprooting your little one from her familiar surroundings and whisking her away to a new place.

We know holiday travels 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 during your Thanksgiving travels, 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 in grandma’s arms, 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 last year 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 traveling 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 holiday traveling, you will probably need a break. 😉

Nicole’s Note
“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? We have the nap resources you need to get ready:

  • Holiday-proof your baby or toddler’s naps! Be sure to check out our free guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes and/or 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.
  • Want Unlimited Product Access? 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!
  • Need Personalized Help? 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, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

5 Bad Nap Habits Your Baby May Develop

 
Baby Nap Habits
 

Did you know that your baby can develop habits at lightning-fast speeds? It’s true; even though she cannot walk or talk yet, she can develop a deeply-rooted habit very, very quickly. This explains why, after just a few days of rocking your baby to sleep, she will come to expect to be rocked. And this is why many babies quickly come to need a pacifier to calm down, even if they have only used the pacifier for a week or two.

Babies can be especially prone to develop bad naptime habits. Why? Because that is when we parents are up and about, and are likely to jump in and “help” (by rocking, offering a pacifier, using the swing, etc.) if baby is fighting sleep. And, let’s be honest, most of us would do just about anything to help our babies take long, restful naps, because that translates into down-time for us!

So, what does this fact mean for us as parents? Two things: first, do not feel bad if your baby develops a bad sleeping habit. Sometimes, during our babies’ illnesses or bouts of teething, we have to help them fall asleep occasionally. And newborns often need to be ‘parented’ to sleep. This is understandable, and if our babies develop a sleep association as a result, it is not because we did anything wrong.

Second, this fact is a good reminder to all of us to watch for bad sleeping habits that our babies may be developing, and to take action to correct those habits when we feel it’s necessary.

So, what kinds of bad napping habits should you be on the lookout for? And how can you correct them? Let’s take a look.

5 Bad Napping Habits Your Baby May Develop

  1. Napping in the Swing. This is an easy one to fall into – believe me, I know from experience! My kids always napped so well in the swing, and while I didn’t usually put them in the swing to sleep at night (that’s not always safe), I would put them in the swing for naps, if they were having a hard time settling down. While it helped ensure that they took long, restorative naps (and gave me time to rest myself!), both of my boys got into the habit of needing the swing to nap, and I eventually had to work on breaking that habit.
  2. Napping on You. If your baby always needs to lie in your arms for naps, or perhaps ride in the baby carrier at naptime, this could become a napping habit. There is nothing wrong with your baby snuggling up to you at nap time, of course (just as there os nothing wrong with rocking or nursing your baby to sleep!), but it may eventually begin to wear you out, since you will need to put “work” into helping your baby sleep. I had a friend whose baby would not nap well unless he was in his mom’s arms. My friend told me that this was fine, at first (she loved it during the newborn stage), but after a few months, she was ready for her son to learn to nap on his own!
  3. Napping on the Go. If you have a busy schedule, or if you have older kids who keep you running around from one activity to another, your baby may get into the habit of taking naps on the go (in the car, in the stroller, etc.) While it’s fine for naps to occasionally happen on the go, this should not become a regular thing. For starters, your baby may come to depend on the motion of the car or the stroller to fall asleep. What’s more, moving naps are not as restorative as naps that happen on a still, flat surface (like the crib), meaning that if your baby regularly takes moving naps, his sleep deficit will grow quickly, to the point where he may become overtired.
  4. Napping Without a Schedule. During the newborn stage, there is no such thing as a by-the-clock schedule. After the first few months, however, predictable patterns may begin go emerge in your baby’s sleep. By about 6 months, your baby will probably be ready for a clock-oriented daytime schedule. It does not have to be a rigid nap schedule, of course, but you should have some general timeframes during which your baby sleeps. However, if your older baby still does not have predictable naptimes, and is napping erratically at random times throughout the day, it’s likely that she’s not getting enough sleep. And all that erratic napping could interfere with nighttime sleep. So it’s best if you implement a daytime schedule to help your baby eat and nap at predictable times.
  5. Napping Too Much. I know what you’re thinking: “I would do anything to have that problem!” But truly, some parents are faced with a situation in which their baby sleeps for long periods during the day, but then wakes frequently at night. This is especially true during the newborn stage; a baby who has his days and nights mixed up will sleep too much during the day and not enough at night. But older babies can do this, too; a baby who consistently does not get enough sleep at night may take long naps during the day, which causes her to sleep less at night, which causes longer daytime naps…you get the idea.

Nicole’s Note:
“One of the more common sleep problems we address in a Personalized Sleep Plan is how to help baby nap in the crib or pack-n-play, instead of a caretaker’s arms. We’ve even had 18+ month olds still napping in arms. While it’s wonderful to cuddle your baby, keep in mind your baby will take naps over 2,500 times before she’s 4 years old! That’s a lot of holding, which would be wonderful if there wasn’t laundry, vacuuming, showering, or eating to do. Some new moms hardly feel like they have time to shower or eat, and the stress mounts. :( Sometimes having ‘you’ time can be enough to recharge and it’s important.”

How To Avoid Bad Baby Nap Habits, and Help Your Baby Nap Better

bss_ebook_7napmistakes_left-transShort or non-existent baby naps can be so frustrating – but you don’t have to suffer through them! We have a ton of nap resources – and one of those nap resources is our free guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes. Are you making any of these common nap mistakes? If so, they may be the cause of your baby’s non-napping. So download your free guide today, and start putting the tips to use as early as your baby’s next nap!
 

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Special Members-Only Nap Resources

bss_ebook_masteringnaps_left Mastering Naps & Schedules — For starters, all Baby Sleep Site® members receive unlimited access to all our e-Books. That’s right – for the price of your membership, you can read all our e-Books at no additional cost! That includes Mastering Naps & Schedules. With over 45 sample schedules (all available for you to view in the Members Area), Mastering Naps & Schedules is THE e-Book for tired parents of non-napping kiddos! We tackle all your top napping issues, including how to get your baby or toddler to take longer naps, how to get your child’s naps to be more consistent and predictable, how to manage nap transitions, how to encourage good napping while traveling – and more! Become a member today, and access the e-Book instantly – no download necessary!
 
Tele-seminarNap Tele-Seminars — Another great members-only resource? Our tele-seminars. Hosted by Nicole herself, these 30 – 45-minute tele-seminars offer you insider-information and our trademark sleep coaching methods and techniques. We have several awesome nap-focused tele-seminars, including one on managing nap transitions, and one on lengthening short naps! Listening to these seminars is like getting a coaching session from Nicole! She’ll walk you through the basics of dealing with common nap problems and give you tried-and-true strategies you can implement at home.

For more details about all our member benefits (including weekly chats with a trained sleep consultant and 20% off ALL sleep consulting packages), visit our membership page, and consider becoming a member today!
 
 
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While our Members Area is great for DIY moms who prefer to tackle sleep challenges on their own, we know that other moms much prefer to go straight to one-on-one help. Well, good news – we offer that, and you can start getting the personal help you need TODAY! You can teach your baby a new way to nap – and we can help. We have helped thousands of families around the world with their babies’ nap trouble, and we can help you, too! Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.

Click here to see all our personalized consultation packages.

Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Is your baby developing any of these bad napping habits? How are you working to correct them?

Why Baby Nap Sleep Is Different Than Night Sleep

Raise your hand if this describes the scene in your home: bedtime is peaceful and easy (and followed by hours of uninterrupted sleep), while naptime is a raging battle of wills (followed by little to no sleep at all.)

Guess what? My hand would be up right now, if I didn’t need both hands to type this post. 😉

That scenario is a familiar one here at The Baby Sleep Site. We hear from a lot of frazzled parents who can’t figure out why their babies and toddlers sleep so perfectly (or at least better) at night and so not perfectly at naptime.

We have the answer to that one: naptime sleep and nighttime sleep are very, very different. So different, in fact, that naptime and nighttime sleep are actually controlled by different parts of the brain, according to Weissbluth.

But we’re not going to get into the biochemical reasons for the difference here. Instead, we’ll explore a few of the practical, common sense reasons why naptime sleep can be far more challenging than nighttime sleep.

Nap Sleep vs. Night Sleep — Consistency and Routine

Let’s start by examining the ways that naptime and nighttime routines are different. When it comes to bedtime, you likely have some sort of routine in place (and if you don’t, we recommend you create one!) Whether your routine involves bath, books, lullabies, or cuddling, it’s the routine itself that matters — doing the same thing in the same order at roughly the same time each night helps signal to your baby or toddler that bedtime’s coming. It also provides a way for your little one to wind down (a critical part of preparing for nighttime sleep.)

Now, think about your naptime routine. Different, isn’t it? A few of you may have a naptime routine that you stick to like glue (and that’s great!) But let’s be honest — it can be harder to have a consistent nap routine in place, simply because it’s harder, day to day, to make sure we’re home at the same time, and that we have the 10 or 15 minutes we need to go through each step of the routine itself. This is especially true if you’re an “on-the-go” parent.

Instead, you might find that naptime sometimes happens in the car, or in a stroller, or even in your lap. And if naptime tends to happen at different times each day (based on your daytime errands and busy-ness), that can mean that naps are even less predictable.

This is understandable, of course; it’s just not feasible for many of you to be home for every naptime, every single day. This is especially true if you have a newborn who naps four or five times a day, or if you have siblings who are all on different nap schedules. But remember that less consistency and routine at naptime can mean a lower quality of sleep, making naptimes stressful and sleepless.

Naptime Sleep vs. Nighttime Sleep — Different Environments

Think about what your house is like at night. It’s dark. It’s (relatively) quiet. Everyone is asleep. Those all sound like ideal sleeping conditions.

Now, think about what your house is like during the day. Sunlight is pouring through your windows. Everyone’s awake. The phone is ringing. Mail carrier is delivering the mail and dogs are barking. The TV is on. Your 5 year old is playing superheroes at top volume (or maybe that’s just mine…)

Could you nap through that?

This is another reason why naptime sleep is often less peaceful than nighttime sleep — the environment in which it happens isn’t nearly so “sleepy.” Sure, you can do your best to create a calm, quiet naptime space. But you can’t blot out the sun, or insist that every single dog on your block stop barking for two hours. And, some babies simply can’t learn to sleep through noise.

Naptime Troubles? Let’s Fix Those.

You know why naptime and nighttime sleep are different, and a few reasons why naptime can be a whole lot less restorative and peaceful than bedtime. Now — how do you “close the gap” between nap sleep and night sleep?

You could start by putting a few of these ideas into practice:

  • Develop a routine, and (mostly) stick with it. Routines go a long way towards promoting good, healthy sleep. Develop a short, basic naptime routine (something you can do in about 5-10 minutes, longer if your baby is spirited), and then try to do it before every nap. The shorter and simpler the routine, the more likely you’ll actually do it each day.
  • Make sure naps happen at (mostly) the same time each day. Timing and routine go hand-in-hand. First, determine how many naps your baby or toddler needs. Second, work to establish a nap schedule with your baby or toddler. Finally, commit to sticking with this schedule as often as possible. Every day is ideal; if that’s not possible aim for 4-5 days each week. For more information on establishing a nap schedule, visit our Sample Schedules page.
  • Allow time for winding down. Shaye, one of our sleep consultants, made this observation about naptime:

    “I think naps are tough because we tend to be running errands, playing, etc. And then boom! We expect them to just lie down and nap amid all that craziness.”

    If that describes your situation, try to allow more time for your baby or toddler to wind down before her nap. Spend some time reading to her, or offer her a few “quiet” toys to play with.

  • Create a “nighttime” nap environment. It’ll never be perfectly dark and quiet at naptime, but with the right nap products, you can get close! :) Blackout blinds and white noise machines create a dim, noise-free setting that’ll help your baby or toddler nap longer and better.

Are naptimes rough at your house? How do you cope? Any tips to make naptime sleep more like nighttime sleep? Share your thoughts!

Naptime sleep (or lack thereof) making you feel flustered and frazzled? 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!

5 Ways to Help Your Baby or Toddler Nap While Traveling

 
Managing Naps During Summer Traveling

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. 😉

Nicole’s Note
“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!”

Help With All Your Baby Sleep Problems (Including The Vacation-Induced Ones!)

Baby sleep problems don’t discriminate – your baby is just as likely to struggle with sleep on the road as she is at home. But the wonky schedules and activity-packed days of vacation can definitely throw a wrench into your baby’s usual nap schedule! Fortunately, we can help. Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® specialize in creating Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are customized to your own parenting philosophy, and that will NEVER make you feel guilty or pressured. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan™, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

How do you help your baby or toddler sleep well when you’re traveling? Share your tips!

 
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
 
Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 

Need help knowing where to start? Visit our Help Me Choose page for helping choosing the Baby Sleep Site® resources that are right for you.