Planning to hit the road with a toddler in tow is both exciting and a bit daunting. After all, keeping your baby on a solid sleep schedule can mean the difference between having time to yourself and reverting back to the time when your own nights were sleepless and busy. The good news is that there are many ways to maintain your baby’s sleep schedule, even when traveling for long distances or taking an extended vacation.
Get Ready By Making Advance Adjustments to Account for Time Changes
Even adults are guaranteed to experience jet lag when dealing with significant time changes. When planning your trip, calculate the difference in time zones and then make modest sleep schedule adjustments to account for it. These adjustments can be made over the course of one to two weeks. For instance, if your trip will place you in a time zone that’s two hours earlier than where you currently are, bump your child’s naptimes and bedtimes back by approximately 10 minutes or so each day. You can reverse this process before heading home so that sleep times remain fairly consistent despite rapid changes in time zones.
Recreate Your Child’s Nighttime Ritual
Even in a completely different environment, your child will still respond positively to all of the same cues that bedtime has arrived. In fact, maintaining nighttime rituals while on the road can be incredibly comforting for infants who feel decidedly out of their element. Be sure to bring along a favorite blanket, sound machine, stuffed animal, or pair of pajamas. If you read your child a book each night, take a few favorite titles along as well.
Flexibility Can Make All the Difference
Staying flexible when it comes to maintaining nighttime schedules and napping routines is also important. After all, your baby will invariably notice and be affected by differences in your environment, and changes in your own schedule. Don’t let strict adherence to your plan prevent you from enjoying a night out on the town or a comfortable morning sleeping in. Adjusting nap times and bedtimes to preserve balance as needed will help both you and your little one enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
Avoid Overstimulation Immediately After Traveling With an Early Bedtime
Whether traveling by plane, train, car, or any other vessel, the journey alone can be incredibly disruptive to your child’s sleep routine. One of the best tricks for avoiding over-stimulation on actual travel days is to schedule bedtime early. After having missed one or more naps, your little one will be more than happy to call it a night earlier in the evening than normal.
Traveling with your baby will likely cause slight disruptions in normal sleeping patterns. However, with these efforts, you can keep your child’s existing sleep schedule fairly well on track. Using this multi-pronged approach will minimize missed naps, prevent exhaustion-related changes in behavior, and help you avoid late, sleepless nights.