Travelling with Kids at Christmas

As I drive down the street, I see Christmas trees shining through frosty windows and twinkling lights on houses throughout my neighbourhood.  The Christmas season is upon us. 

And I am sure by this point you have received a call from your mother-in-law asking (or maybe telling!)you the plans for Christmas. 

You fondly remember going to your parents and even your in-laws for Christmas because someone did the cooking for you, you could sleep in and just take in all the season had to offer.  After all, you were on Christmas holidays! 

But the days of staying up into the wee hours of the morning, sipping rum and egg nog by the fire and crashing wherever there was room have long passed.

You have a baby now.  Christmas is such an exciting and magical time with children.   And so many cherished memories will be made during the season. 

But things just got a little bit more complicated!  Suddenly spending 5 days at the in-laws doesn’t sound quite as appealing with a baby in tow. 

Are you worried about unsolicited advice from Grandma?  

What if your baby cries and keeps everyone up all night? 

Where will everyone sleep? 

How do I manage to get my baby to bed on time? 

All these questions are dancing around in your head!

With a little preparation and planning,  your little one can sleep well during the holiday season.

  • Respect your child’s sleep needs and do not over-schedule.  Plan for some down time where your child can have naps that are not on the go.  It is tempting to see as any people as possible, but it will just leave everyone miserable at the end of the day.  You won’t have a good visit with Great Aunt Edna if your baby is crying the whole time or your toddler is having a melt down. 
  • 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.  If that happens, you might start to get very nervous because your baby, who has been happily chatting herself to sleep for weeks, is now crying again, and your mother-in-law is standing outside the door repeatedly asking you if you’re sure the baby is okay.  You may start to give into this pressure and bend your expectations for your baby’s sleep.
  • 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 Christmas 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.
  • If you have to take a 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!

I wish you a season of precious memories, hearts full of love and silent nights!



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