You must read this before heading out on vacation. Good sleep can make or break your vacation!
- Respect your child’s sleep needs and do not over-schedule. Plan for some down time in the afternoon where your child can have a nap that is not on the go. It is tempting to do as much as possible, but it will just leave everyone miserable at the end of the day. Remember, you are travelling with kids in tow! One of my husband’s favourite memories from a trip we went on when our kids were little, was sitting on the patio overlooking the ocean, reading for a few hours in the afternoon, while the kids and mom took a nap!
- An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime is okay. Most children can tolerate this without too much disruption to their overall sleep patterns. However, consecutive days of naps on the go and later bedtimes will wreak havoc on their sleep. You still want to aim for no more than 20% of naps out and about.
- Your child may test the boundaries and protest more in their new sleep environment until they get used to it. Deal with it the same way you would at home by going in and out of the room every 10 minutes and provide some quick reassurance. Be very consistent for the first few days and nights and your child will be used to their new sleep space and go back to sleeping well, which will make for an enjoyable vacation for everyone.
- Bring your child’s blankie or stuffie, sleep sack and white noise. Set up a sleep space that is dark and separate from you. Hallways, bathrooms and closets can work well to set up baby’s temporary room. There is a great product out there called the SnoozeShade that fits over most playpens. It is a breathable, blackout cover that works great for blocking out light and providing some separation from your baby if you happen to be sharing a room.
- As tempting as it might be to bed share for a few nights, it is not a good option. Often your child will decide this is his new preferred location to sleep and you may find yourself back to square one when you return home.
- For the plane ride, it is best to plan ahead and do whatever you need to do to keep your child comfortable and occupied for the journey. He may have a nap in your arms and that is okay.
- If you are doing a driving trip, planning to drive during nap time works well. It is just best to ensure that all naps are not happening in the car. And stop and take breaks to eat and stretch! Your child needs this too!
Start on night one with implementing your new bedtime routine, ensuring your child stays wide awake until going into the crib.
Night one can be a tough night as it is the transition night. Do not have any expectations that you will see improvement on night one. You will start to see improvement within 2-3 nights.
And sometimes things get worse before they get better as you are removing props. It is like taking off a bandaid. And this is why I recommend making all the changes on night one. The band aid is taken off quickly and it is not as painful as you thought. You could make one change at a time and take it very slow. But then the process in long, drawn out and way more painful. And parents do not want to wait that long to start seeing progress.
For many parents the anticipation of night one, is much worse than actual completing night one!
Consistency is so important here!
If your baby is confused as to what to expect around sleep time, you will get way more crying and see little progress.
If you rock him one night and then expect him to go down on his own the next night, you will get more protest. If you expect her to nurse to sleep at bedtime and then fall back sleep on her own during the night, you will get more protest.
If you start the process of “sleep training” and call it quits half way through the night, then you are only teaching your baby to protest even harder the next time you try.
The best advice is to jump in with both feet, make your baby’s sleep a priority for 2 weeks and COMMIT. Within 2 nights of consistency, you will be seeing improvement!
Can you baby sleep well with a soother?
Some babies that are good sleepers can get away with using a soother. But I have yet to come across a baby that can learn to sleep well using a soother. It is a prop, something external they rely on to fall asleep or stay asleep or even just start their journey to sleep. And because of this, it interferes with the development of their own skills.
What if baby can find the soother on their own? It still interrupts their sleep even if they have to wake up and find the soother. And most babies will still need some help every now then.
So the bottom line is the soother needs to go if you want sleep to improve.
Most parents are nervous to get rid of the soother because it is their crutch too. But within a few days, parents report it is so liberating not having to worry about the soother.
How to deal with an early bird!
You might be surprised to hear it all starts with bedtime.
• Ensure the bedtime feed is before bath or at the beginning of the routine and your little one is wide awake for the feed.
• Ensure baby is going down wide awake all on her own.
• Ensure baby is not at all overtired.
• If baby wakes between 5am-6am it is best to stay out of the room if at all possible. Seeing mom or dad is just too stimulating and now they know you are awake too, so there is usually no going back to sleep. They think it is party time!
• Wait until a minimum of 6am to take baby out of the crib.
• Ensure the room is pitch dark and you are using white noise to drown out all of those early morning noises like Dad getting ready for work.
• It can take 4-6 weeks of being super consistent before your baby’s body clock is reset and he starts sleeping in later.
For all night wakings, even it is feeding time, give your little one 10-12 minutes to try to go back to sleep on their own. Because they went to sleep on their own at bedtime, this is a realistic expectation. If they have not gone back to sleep and it is not feeding time, then use the same strategy your did at bedtime: either come and go or sit and support until they go back to sleep. The first night or two the wakings may be long, but if you are consistent your baby will catch on pretty quickly. You should start seeing progress in 2-3 nights and the average for sleeping through the night is on night 5.
Bedtime routine should start about 30 minutes before you want your baby in bed. You want the routine to be predictable and consistent. Here is a sample of a great bedtime routine:
-bottle or nursing
-into the sleep sack
-turn on the white noise
***Baby needs to be put in the crib wide awake***