Whether it’s a planned getaway or a trip to see family over the holidays, for parents of babies and toddlers, the prospect of disrupting their sleep routines whilst travelling can be a source of anxiety.
Fortunately, with thoughtful planning and a flexible mindset, I’m here to tell you that it's possible to enjoy your journey while ensuring your little travellers get the rest they need.
Here are my top tips on how to maintain a sleep routine while exploring with your baby and toddler.
Choose Baby and Toddler Friendly Accommodation
When selecting your accommodation, prioritise places that are family-friendly and equipped to meet the needs of young babies and children. Look for hotels or holiday rentals that offer cots, curtains and family-friendly rooms.
Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment
A travel cot is a great investment if you’re travelling by car. Prior to your trip, try using it at home for day time naps or to play in so that your baby or toddler familiar with it prior to travelling. This will help them feel more at ease with sleeping in it when you’re on the road.
Although you're away from home, try to maintain elements of your child's bedtime routine. Bring along familiar items like a favourite bedtime story, sleeping bag/suit, and comforter to create a sense of predictability and routine. Ensuring there are plenty of familiar sleep-time cues really is key.
Also, make your baby or toddler's sleep space as comfortable as possible. Pack essentials such as a travel-sized white noise machine to drown out unfamiliar sounds, and consider bringing along travel blackout blinds to help create a dark sleep environment - foil works well here too for an inexpensive DIY option!
Time Your Travel
Aim to plan your travel around your child's sleep schedule. If possible, opt for flights or long drives during their nap times or bedtime. This can minimise disruptions to their routine and increase the likelihood of them sleeping during the journey.
Be Flexible with Sleep Schedules
While it's important to stick to a routine, be prepared to adapt. Travelling can sometimes involve changes in time zones, and it might not always be feasible to keep to your usual schedule. Allow for some flexibility and prioritise your child's well-being over a rigid routine. Naps may be on-the-go during the day so you can enjoy your time away, and when in doubt, 'early bed for the win'!
If you're moving across time zones, give your little one time to adjust. Gradually shift their schedule in the days leading up to your trip, exposing them to daylight or darkness at the appropriate times to help their internal clock adjust. Wake them at a regular time each morning to help click them over to the new time zone.
Prioritise Rest on Arrival
Once you’ve reached your destination, consider taking it easy for the first day to allow everyone to catch up on rest. This can help your baby and toddler adjust to their new environment which will help to reduce the chances of overtiredness and inevitable meltdown!
Keep Healthy Sleep Habits
Encourage healthy sleep habits by ensuring your child gets enough physical activity during the day. Explore child-friendly activities and parks at your destination to help them burn off energy, making bedtime more restful.
Keep Calm and Stay Positive
Little ones often pick up on their parents' or carers energy so if bedtime doesn't go as planned, reassure your little one and try to maintain a sense of routine as much as possible. Fake your cool, calm and collected persona if you must.
Travelling with a baby and toddler may present its challenges, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience. By prioritising sleep routines and planning ahead, you can create a balance between exploration and rest, ensuring that both you and your little ones enjoy the journey to the fullest.
If you’re struggling with anything related to your baby or toddlers sleep, please don’t hesitate to reach out here.