Parents often ask me if there is a way to travel AND have their children sleep well while away. This is so hard because children really do thrive on routine and when taken out of their comfort zone they often end up anxious which can lead to a rough night of sleep. Here are my top five tips for making sleep on vacation go as smoothly as possible.
Bring comfort items from home
It’s always a good idea to pack all the familiar things that help your child sleep well at home. If you’re renting a crib, bring a familiar sheet from home. Don’t forget to pack your child’s sound machine, sleep sacks, favorite books, pacifiers etc. It may seem like a lot to lug along but these familiar items will go along way when it comes to making your child feel at home while sleeping in an unfamiliar place.
Spend time in the room before bed
I always advise clients to spend some time playing where your child will sleep overnight. The more comfortable your child is with their new sleep space, the more likely they are to fall asleep without too much trouble on that first night.
Be sure to keep your child on schedule
An overtired child is no fun, especially on vacation. While it’s unlikely that you will be able to head back to the hotel room for all naps, it’s still absolutely worthwhile to keep your child on their nap schedule, even if naps are on the go. A stroller or carrier nap is better than no nap at all!
Consider booking a suite
If your child is used to sleeping in their own room, it may be very difficult for them to fall asleep if you’re right there beside them in the room. Consider booking a hotel suite so that your child can have their own dedicated sleep space. If this is not possible, I’ve seen parents tape up a sheet to the ceiling to partition off the room – don’t be afraid to get creative!
Lower your expectations
This one is so important. Remember that you don’t always sleep your best when in a strange environment, so have reasonable expectations for your children. It can often take a few nights to really get comfortable, which doesn’t help if you’re only away for a few nights. Try your best to keep your child comfortable, and don’t be afraid to offer some extra snuggles and comfort at night. Whatever “bad habits” that develop while on vacation can always be undone once you return home.