If you’re planning on traveling this summer, be aware of the vacation sleep regression.
Say what? Yup, there’s a regression that may occur after traveling with your child. But don’t fret, I’m sharing my best professional tips for baby sleep when traveling.
In my pre-sleep coach days, I remember the anxiety I felt about traveling with a baby…
What would I do without my chair to rock her to sleep at night? Would she even sleep in her pack n play? Since we were sharing a hotel room, would I be able to go to the bathroom in the night? Would we wake up the other guests if she cried?
When planning your vacation with little people, you have to do the best you can with budget and time constraints. We’d all love to have a 2 bedroom suite but sometimes that’s not an option.
My vacation + sleep philosophy is do the best you can to enjoy yourself and get sleep:
5 tips for better vacation sleep with a baby: (*affiliate links)
- Ideally you want to keep everything as consistent as possible:
- Same schedule
- Same soothing routines (if you give a bath every night at home, do the same on vacation)
- Same comforts from home: loveys, noise machine– (I love this travel version that charges via USB), cozy sheets
- Consider where baby will be sleeping, especially if you’re sharing a room
- I’ve seen parents bring a sheet and thumbtacks and create a visual divider in the room.
- Get creative- is there a large closet or bathroom where baby could sleep? (Make sure you leave the door open for ventilation)
- Bring blackout curtains! I love these EZ Blackout Covers
- Don’t assume your child will sleep on the plane/in the car. If it does happen- AMAZING. If not, better to be prepared!
- You can encourage your child to sleep on the plane or car by changing them into pajamas and their sleep sack (which are great cues to sleep!)
- Have your child nap in their travel bed the day or two before you leave so they become comfortable.
- Don’t stress about the other guests.Most of them have been in your position and understand if a baby is protesting his new sleep environment.
Unfortunately if your vacation is being sabotaged by trying to adhere to your child’s sleep schedule, then you may have to resort to some sleep crutches.
You may end up bringing them in your bed or going to bed very late, having naps off-schedule, or only in the car.
This is all totally fine. You need those family vacations. They are the best way for your family to bond and make memories.
However, when you return home you may find yourself in a vacation sleep regression.
If your travel involved a time change or long flight, you could be dealing with some rough jet lag or a child completely off-schedule. They may fight sleeping in their own crib after getting used to their vacation sleeping arrangement.
My Sleep & Travel Rule: Allow recovery time of 50% of the time you were gone.
So if you were on vacation for 10 days, allow about 5 days of inconsistencies (naps and bedtime a little off-schedule but working back in the right direction)
Then be very consistent in your approach and make sure your child is recovering by moving sleep times earlier.
If your child got used to sleeping with you, you might need to retrain them to sleep in their own bed. You can reassure them that they need to sleep in their own bed by offering quick verbal reassurances (“I love you. It’s time to sleep”) or physical consoling (shushing, patting their back).
Time Zone Change/Long Flight = Jet lag
If you experienced a big time zone change, then you will also need to patiently move your child back to their standard time.
Try moving their times 30 mins to 1 hour each day. After a couple of days with lots of sunlight exposure, their bodies will get back on track. If they’re still struggling after a week, you will have to be more firm in putting them back on their standard schedule.
And most importantly, enjoy those family vacations. If you need help fixing your vacation sleep regression, reach out and we’ll create a plan!