Long sunny days, trips to the cottage, entertaining, and busy summer schedules can wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep routine. If you’re worried about protecting your little ones’ sleep schedule while trying to enjoy your own summer getaway, don’t be – you can still get the rest and relaxation you deserve and not throw off your baby and toddler’s sleep schedule by following these tips.
Change the Unfamiliar to the Familiar
No matter where you are traveling, try to recreate the same sleep environment (as much as possible) that your baby or toddler has at home. Bring along items with positive sleep associations such as your child’s favorite lovey. Use travel blinds, extra sheets, or garbage bags to darken up the room, and use a fan or an app for white noise to drown out unfamiliar sounds. These seemingly small steps have a big impact on helping you achieve a seamless bedtime experience.
Don’t Leave Routines at Home
While your vacation schedule may differ from your regular day-to-day routine, that doesn’t mean your bedtime routine needs to change. Make time to do the same pre-sleep calming activities such as: reading a familiar book, singing the same lullaby, and giving cuddles before bed. This will cue your little one that sleep is coming and help them feel safe and secure in knowing what to expect – even when things around them are not so certain.
Remember The 80/20 Rule
Sticking to a consistent routine while on vacation can be tough. It’s during this time where the 80/20 rule applies and it’s brilliantly simple to follow:
80% of the time, schedule events in a way that protects your little one’s sleep. Try to protect bedtimes and naps as best you can. If you know bedtime will be pushed later, focus on proper naps that day to mitigate the disruption.
20% of the time, if you have to veer away from regular sleeping patterns, that’s fine. Just be careful to ensure that it isn’t happening every day, and your child should adapt. If you have pushed things for a few days, give your child a day of rest to get him back to his usual routine in order to minimize sleep disruption.
Avoid Meltdowns and Mayhem
Create a quiet area whether it’s in a hotel bedroom or a quiet nook at the cottage. About 30 minutes before your toddler’s bedtime routine take them to that area and play quietly. It could be as simple as reading a story or looking at picture books. And if they require more support in falling asleep while away no big deal. Try not to pick up too many new habits but as long as you get back on track once you are home all will be well.
Enjoy your time away, but remember that a well-rested child will be a much better companion than an overtired one. While you don’t need to stress out about every single sleep rule remember when you factor your baby’s sleep schedule into your vacation schedule, your baby will be more cheerful and better able to adapt to changes, and that adds up to a happier holiday for mom and dad too!
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Consultant of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC) and serves on the faculty of The Family Sleep Institute. She and her husband, Mike, live in Toronto, Canada with their 3 children (1+twins!) You can follow her expert advice in national publications like Macleans, Prevention Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Huffington Post. Alanna strives in helping families (baby to adults) overcome their sleep challenges and have happy well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram and Facebook.