Spring and summer vacations are upon us. I have been asked many times about vacations as parents are excited yet nervous at the same time. We work so hard to get our babies and children into wonderful sleep routines that the thought of upsetting the apple cart is just something we can't bare to think about. There are some things that you can do so that baby stays rested and your family vacation is one to remember.
First, do your best to plan your travel time when it fits well into your child's schedule. If you have to travel during nap time, that is fine, but try to be settled in a place where your child can sleep for the night around your child's normal bedtime. This is important to get your vacation started on a positive note. You don't want to start your trip with an overtired child. Bring your child's bedtime routine with you. You want to keep things as familiar as possible for your child. Bring your white noise, story, lullabies, lovey, pacifier etc. Expect that there will be a transition period as your child is in a new place.
While you are away, it's okay to stray from routine, but know that if your child misses a nap, then you should plan for an early bedtime that night. What you want to avoid is disregarding the total schedule because your child will quickly become overtired. If your child is out to dinner late and goes to bed late, make sure he gets a nap in the next day at a good time and a good bedtime the next day. It is also good to plan to be at a place where your child can lie down for nap, if possible. Also, do not plan more than one activity a day. Being on vacation is very stimulating to children because everything is new and exciting. Please keep that in mind as you are making your travel itinerary.
Also, avoid going back to any previous sleep crutches that your child had in the past. For example, if your child used to co-sleep and you have since broken that habit at home, you do not want to co-sleep on your vacation. Instead use a pack n play or travel crib for your child.
Make sure that your child stays well hydrated and fed. It's sometimes hard to provide a good quality diet on vacation. Plan to bring fruit and healthy snacks to keep in your child's bag, so your little one can have fruit at every meal and will be less likely to become constipated.
Lastly, enjoy your vacation. You will probably pay for your vacation when you get home, but if you go right back to your consistent routine at home, things will get back to normal fairly quickly. You may have a transition period at home for the number of days that you were gone, so if you travel for three days, it may take your child three days to return to your normal routine once you get back home. Be sure not to bring your vacation habits home with you though. Return to your normal routine immediately as soon as you arrive home. Have a safe and fun trip this summer!