My husband has a job that has our family traveling a lot. We move every 2-3 years, and although it can be exciting, it also comes with its difficulties. Now that our boys are 3 and 5 we’ve had a lot of experience helping them adapt to new places. Whether we are moving or traveling for vacation, I’ve discovered some tips and tricks that have helped over the years.
Here are a few things you can do, to try and avoid a sleep regression:
Keep a similar routine when traveling. This is so important and the most difficult tip to follow. When you’re traveling, the routine is obviously going to be different, but try and keep naptimes and bedtimes to around the same time as you would at home. If your child misses a nap due to travel, put them to bed earlier than you normally would. You can help them catch a nap on the plane or car by trying to keep their naptime routine the same. Bring your child's favorite books to read on the plane, sing their favorite songs, and then give them their lovey and tell them it’s time for sleep. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth trying! When you get to your destination encourage your child to nap at their usual time each day, if that's not possible, rely on the earlier bedtime. If you’re traveling through time zones, it can be difficult, but aim to wake your child up at what would be their regular wake-up time, and try to keep them up until their regular naptime. This helps ease the transition and makes for a faster transition to the new time zone.
Bring their crib sheets and blankets. This is such an easy but important thing to remember. Kids like to have their bed smell and feel familiar. By taking their unwashed sheets and pillows, you’re helping to recreate their same sleeping place.
Bring their essentials. Try to recreate your child’s sleep space in a new setting. You can bring some plastic garbage bags or tinfoil to cover the windows, to ensure that the room is dark enough- there are also great travel blackout products available. If your child normally sleeps with a white noise machine, you can download an app on your phone. Bring your child’s favorite: books, toys (a few), pacifiers and lovey.
Acclimate to the room & crib. When you arrive at your destination or new home, let your child explore their new sleeping space, this will help if they wake-up in the middle of the night and don’t know where they are. Whenever my family is staying in a new home or vacation house, I try to choose the smallest room available for my kids. Children seem to react better to small spaces, and large rooms can make some kids feel uneasy. Try putting their crib, pack n’ play or bed in the same corners that they are in at home. If your children share a room at home, keep them together in their new home or hotel room. This will make them feel more secure and help them adapt more easily.
Don’t avoid travel or vacations out of fear of sleep disruptions, use these tips to help ease the transition to a new home or a temporary vacation spot. Travel with kids can be difficult, but with some small tips and tricks you can help them (and yourself!) have an easier time adjusting to a new situation!