When my son was a baby, there was a period of time that we did not travel just to avoid messing up his sleep. Pretty crazy, right?! We had come such a long way to get him sleeping well, that I worried traveling would mess everything up. I would do anything to avoid going back to sleepless nights and nap struggles!
If you plan on traveling to a hotel room anytime soon, these tips can help make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.
The two biggest mistakes parents make while traveling are over scheduling and bed sharing.
Mistake #1: Over Scheduling
The biggest mistake parents make while traveling is over scheduling. There are too many things on the agenda, too many places to see and too many people to see. After a few days of missed naps here and there and late bedtimes, by day three or four, baby becomes so overtired, she is miserable and fussy, making it even harder to go to sleep. To avoid this, adjust your travel schedule and try to stick to regular nap and bedtimes as much as you can. This may look like one parent taking the baby back to the hotel room to nap, while the other parent stays with the other children. It is better to hang onto your sleep schedule and sacrifice a little of your day to avoid schedules getting out of whack. Remember, a well-rested baby is a happy baby, and everyone can enjoy their time better!
Mistake #2: Bedsharing
I have worked with many families who come to me after a trip because they are having trouble getting sleep back on track. One habit families get into while on a trip is bed sharing. If you do not want to continue sharing a bed when you return from a trip, do not bed share while on the trip. If you have worked so hard with your child on independent sleep skills, bed sharing can interfere with this. Babies and children move around so much while they are sleeping; one minute their head is at the top of the crib, the next at the bottom! None of you will get a good night’s sleep because you are not used to sleeping with each other. You want to avoid everyone being grouchy and sleep deprived for your trip. I would recommend bringing a pack and play or calling the hotel to see if they have one available so you have one less thing to bring, because let’s be honest, the amount of “stuff” to trek for a baby or child is ridiculous! A pack and play can give them and you separate sleeping space so everyone will sleep better.
Remodel Hotel Room:
When you get into your room, you may have to do a little remodeling. This does not apply to babies under six months because if they can see you, it should not make a difference. If your child is older than six months, build some type of divider so your child will not be able to see you sleeping in the middle of the night. If your ten month old wakes up at 2 am, looks over, and sees her two favorite people laying right next to her, she is going to think it is time to party.
You can put the pack and play in the bathroom (some bathrooms in hotels are large enough to fit this) or if a closet is large enough. The benefit to these sleeping spaces is darkness so baby won’t wake up prematurely with the sun and it’s pretty quiet. This also gives you the opportunity to have some space in the evening to watch a movie or enjoy time with your partner. If the bathroom or closet space won’t work, hang a sheet up to use as a divider. You can also use a chair or two to hang the sheet and block baby from seeing you.
If baby cries:
The first night or two, you may have to provide a little more comfort than you do at home, as your baby gets used to sleeping in a different space. At bedtime, you may need to sit next to your baby and do some shushing or hum a song, or offer some touch reassurance to let her know you are there and it’s time to sleep. You could apply this is she wakes in the middle of the night as well. Typically, by the first night or two, baby has adjusted to the new sleeping space and everyone can enjoy the trip!