An expert solves your biggest baby sleep emergencies.
*We’ve partnered with Earth Mama Angel Baby Organics to make your travel with babies easier this holiday season.
There’s nothing more exciting than traveling with a baby… until it’s time to put that baby to bed. Yes, Paris, Rome, Hawaii, and even New Jersey (hello, Grandma!) sound fabulous in theory but, well what about the crib? The time difference? The overstimulation? OMG, this won’t be a vacation… it will be a nightmare because she won’t sleep. You begin to rethink the vacation because now she thrives on the perfect routine. You’re scared you’ll mess up that sleep schedule you worked so hard to establish. You begin to worry about how she will adapt, and how you will survive. So what do you do?
Below are 7 easy tips on how to get your baby to sleep when you’re traveling.
Sleep Emergency #1: I can’t figure out when to fly to make it easiest on my baby’s sleep schedule.
Solution: I recommend flying during your baby’s scheduled nap times. Your baby will generally sleep better on the plane if it’s scheduled during their biological sleep times (aka “sleep sweet spot”). If you can’t hit the perfect sleep sweet spot when purchasing your tickets and your baby misses his regularly scheduled nap, expect that first night to be a little rough with the sleep. Try to implement an early bedtime to accommodate for the loss of sleep during the day.
Sleep Emergency #2: She’s a creature of habit, and I’m not sure how she’ll handle a new sleeping space.
Solution: While you can’t replicate her exact sleep space, you can replicate her sleep routine. Create a routine you can take on the road, and start practicing it a few days or even weeks before leaving. A relaxing bath (even in the hotel sink!), followed by a rubdown with calming baby lotion, can help her get in sleep mode, no matter where you’re located. Use products with organic lavender, which is naturally soothing, like these from Earth Mama. You can even put a baby-safe lavender plush in her travel crib. If you start now, she’ll start to associate the smell with sleep, and the lavender will be a prompt when you’re on the road.
Sleep Emergency #3: Your hotel room (or Grandma’s extra room right off the kitchen) isn’t as soundproof as promised.
Solution: If you’re in a hotel, let the front desk know you have a baby and ask to be moved. Otherwise, try a white noise machine or app to mask outside sounds. Place it where the noise is amplified to block it out.
Sleep Emergency #4: Your baby’s overtired and can’t calm down.
Solution: Sometimes mama cuddles are the best way to soothe a baby. Find a quiet spot away from the chaos for a quick nursing or feeding session, and reassure him that even though you’re not at home, the best part of the home (you!) is right there.
Sleep Emergency #5: Your kids have to share a room.
Solution: Make it a vacation adventure! If your children are old enough, bring a sleeping bag or set up some blankets on the floor and tell them it’s a special vacation treat. If your child is younger than 3, request (or bring) bed rails to be placed on the ends of the bed to protect them from rolling off.
Sleep Emergency #6: Grandma (or another family member) wants to pinch those chunky cheeks and bounce your little one on her lap, but it’s overstimulating right before bedtime.
Solution: Ask your family member to move the stimulation to earlier in the day, and instead, have them participate in the bedtime routine. Let them be a part of the bath or read a book. That way they are still spending time with them and bonding in a positive way. A win-win for everyone.
Sleep Emergency #7: Your destination will require a time change.
Solution: For the first few days, make sure that your baby gets at least 15 to 20 minutes of daylight exposure, ideally mid-morning and late afternoon. This will support their little body’s internal sleep clock (Circadian Rhythm) to adapt to the time zone you’re currently in. Bonus: You can also use this tip for daylight savings time!
Above all else, remember to keep a sense of humor. Don’t go into this vacation with a concrete plan. Go with the flow. When you’re traveling, you’re going on an adventure to discover new things and new lands. So make it memorable.