Its that time of year where we all try to get some much needed rest and relaxation by taking a family holiday!
Fun in the sun or a staycation, each will bring their own sleep challenges. New environments and a different routine will have an impact on your childs sleep but by preparing in advance & taking on board these tips you will have made the first step towards a restful holiday for all. On the day you are travelling do what you can to get your child to nap. An overtired baby will be harder to settle when you get to your destination than one who has had some sleep during the journey. Allow napping in arms, car, buggy – whatever you need to get through the day. Don’t clock watch – just let it happen.
Pack a blanket that your baby or child is familiar with for the journey. If your child has a bedtime companion, teddy or soft toy perhaps, ensure this is with you while travelling also. These items from home will help to make them comfortable and feel secure on the move. Pack good quality black bin liners and sellotope into your suit case. A darkened room is essential for sleep as it promotes the production of the sleepy hormone melatonin. Simply stick some black bin liners to the windows and you have DIY black out blinds! You will thank me for this tip in the future!
On the day you arrive ensure your baby gets to bed close to their normal bedtime as possible. This will stop overtiredness setting in, making them even harder to settle. You will see the benefit of this the following day when your child has had a good rest.
Obviously your baby’s sleep environment will be brand new to them while away, so allow them some time to get used to their new cot upon arrival. Pop some toys in give them some time playing there while you are getting settled in and unpacking the cases!
Bring your own fitted sheet for the cot. Hotels & other accommodation will provide a cot, if requested in advance, however they may not have an appropriate fitted sheet. This sheet will fit securely to the mattress and will not come loose. Loose bedding is not recommended under safe sleep guidelines.
Bring your monitor with you if you are not room sharing. It will leave you feeling secure that you will hear or see your baby if they wake and allow you to get a good nights sleep, which is also very important.
Room sharing on holidays can be hard on everyone if regular room sharing is something you have moved on from. If your baby wakes during the night and is still feeding at night then do your feed as normal & settle your baby back in their cot as normal. If you baby wakes and is no longer feeding at night I would give your child reassurance and return to your own bed. You may need to repeat this a number of times for you child to feel secure in their new environment and return to sleep.
Holiday time is one for getting out and about and enjoying new experiences. Routine however is very important when it comes to healthy sleep. I would encourage that you try for at least one cot nap a day. That way your child is getting some hard core consolidated sleep that will keep overtiredness at bay. The rest of the naps can be on the go!
Have fun. If some habits outside of your normal routine start to form while on holiday, don’t fret. By practising a consistent routine and getting back on track as soon as possible when you get home you will have regained the gift of sleep within a couple of days.
Erica Hargaden is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and mother to three children. Babogue Paedatric Sleep Solutions provides services to parents of children who are experiencing sleep issues and helps bring the gift of sleep to their homes. She can be reached at email@example.com or via www.babogue.com