Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Your Little One’s Sleep and Your Travel Plans

While holiday travel plans can be lots of fun, they can also be a bedtime nightmare for parents of young babies and toddlers. Whether it’s inconsistent routines, less-than peaceful sleeping areas, or travel-induced nighttime fears, going out of town can seriously wreck even the most hard-won sleep schedule. Check out the tips below to minimize the impact of travel plans on your little one’s shut-eye.

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{ MORE: Mastering Family Vacations with School-Aged Kids }

Plan Ahead

Parents of young kids are probably some of the most forward-thinking planners in the world. Often though, in the chaos of travel plans, wrapping presents, and attending endless holiday obligations, the fact that they need to plan for their little one's sleep gets lost in the shuffle. As you think about the holidays be sure to consider your baby, toddler, or child’s sleep as you make choices about what mode of transportation you’ll utilize, your travel schedule, what you need to pack, and your lodging.

Pack what you need

While many hotels and air b&bs now keep cribs or pack-n-plays for their guests to use, you don’t want to be surprised to arrive and find that what you thought was there really isn't. For infants, bring along their bassinet or pack-n-play, for toddlers and preschoolers bring along a portable travel cot,> and for older kids consider whether they’ll be comfortable sleeping in the regular beds provided. Alternatively, if you’re staying with family you often visit, an affordable, easy-to-pack away toddler bed you keep at their home might be a very worthwhile investment.

Don’t compromise on safety

While it can be a pain to pack the bulky items infants need for safe sleep, it’s important not to compromise on safety when you travel. All the same rules about safe sleep (the baby on their back, on a firm mattress, with nothing but themselves in the sleep space) apply while you’re on the road just like they do at home.

{ MORE: 3 Great Things (and 3 Not-So-Great Things) About Having an Early Walker }

Keep routines as similar to home as possible

While keeping the same routine you use at home while you travel can be almost impossible, most parents can get pretty close if they work for it. Keep bedtime and wake up time as close to they are at home as possible, try to follow a similar getting ready routine (bed, pajamas, reading etc.), and, if possible, have your baby sleep in the room with the same people they sleep in the room with while at home – whether that’s alone, with you, or a sibling.

Keep your expectations in check

There’s nothing that will ruin travel with kids quicker than unrealistic expectations. You can absolutely have fun as you travel. But, chances are, your baby is not going to sleep as well as they do at home. You’re going to have to do more night parenting than you may be used to and you’re not going to return home well-rested. Knowing this before you hit the road can make all the difference in how you experience your trip!

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Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Your Little One’s Sleep and Your Travel Plans

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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