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Happy first day of Spring! Spring break is coming up and many families will be taking the week off to travel. Are you nervous to travel with your infant or toddler because you don’t want to interfere with their sleep? Try the tips below to maximize your child’s sleep whenever you are away from home!

  1. Sleep environment – Always try and bring similar items from your child’s sleep environment with you when you are away. This includes blackout shades (you can buy cheap stick on one from Amazon), your white noise machine, favorite sheets, favorite pajamas, sleep sacks, pacifiers, loveys and night lights. The idea is to make your child feel as comfortable and familiar with the environment as you can.
  2. Stick to a schedule as much as possible – Try to keep your bedtime, naps and wake up as consistent as to what it is at home, as much as you can. If it’s a bit off then try and make it consistent everyday you are away. Often times on vacation bedtime might be a little bit later and naps might be shorter or on the go. Be flexible, while still trying to get your child the sleep they need. For example, if a nap isn’t possible in the crib, take it on the go and if bedtime is a little later one night try to sleep in a bit the next morning or push it a bit earlier the next night. 
  3. Soothing routine – Stick to your normal bedtime and nap routines. These routines signal to your child that it is time for sleep. Make sure to bring along your favorite books to read and/or lotion to rub on after bath.
  4. Don’t start bad habits – If your child is having trouble falling asleep, don’t start any habits you don’t want to continue at home such as rocking to sleep or having them sleep with you in your bed. Be patient and try other tactics that don’t reinforce a behavior you think they might want to continue when you return.
  5. Change of time zone – If you’re traveling to a different time zone, do your best to adjust your child’s schedule to the new time. So for example if you arrive somewhere and it’s normally bedtime but bedtime at the destination isn’t for a couple hours, try and stretch your child to the new time you want them to sleep. Expose them to lots of light and activity so that they don’t accidentally drift off. This is tough so again do the best you can and it will probably take a few days for everyone to adjust to the new schedule. Keeping meal times consistent on the new schedule will also help with circadian rhythms.
  6. Plan ahead – Try to schedule travel time during nap times so that it’s easier for them to fall asleep and to give you a break! For example, if you are leaving on a road trip it would make sense to leave at your child’s nap time so that they are sleeping in the car vs. having to take a nap once you get to your destination. Same with flight times. This might not always work out so again, stay flexible!

The good news is that most children who are good sleepers will go back to being good sleepers, even if things were a bit off when traveling. Enjoy your vacation!