Get your Kids to Sleep on Vacation
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Get Your Kids to Sleep On Vacation
When we first started traveling with our kids, my biggest concern was whether my toddler would sleep on vacation. My first, our “spirited” and “independent” child is a terrible sleeper. Really terrible. Just when I finally had some semblance of a routine in place for sleep I didn’t want to mess everything up by going on vacation.
A well-rested mother is a happy mother, and a well-rested toddler is also a happy toddler. As such, I will go the extra mile to make sure my kids sleep well on vacation.
Here are my tips for beating toddler jet lag, getting your baby to sleep on vacation, and keeping your sleep routine while traveling!
Recreate the bedroom
When my son was a baby he slept in a pitch black room with a noise machine on. On vacation, we had to recreate this space. We would bring along our noise machine (if you don’t have room, youtube has white noise tracks), and we would use these amazing travel blackout blinds to darken any space we were in. Many nights my son spent sleeping in a bathroom or walk-in closet to keep things dark.
Recreate the routine
Our routine is very simple, brush teeth, washroom, book, and bed. It can be recreated anywhere and this helps my son to know it’s wind-down time for bed. Having a simple routine that you do consistently will help when traveling.
No late nights
Some kids are flexible with their sleep routine. If you are reading this blog, yours probably isn’t one of them. If my kids are up late there is a 100% chance they will wake up at least 1 hour earlier. There is also a 150% chance they will be grumpy all day. Even though I would love my kids to be up dancing to music all night and enjoying dinner with the rest of us, I make sleep happen. See my stroller tip below for doing this without cramping your own style on vacation.
Out to dinner in the stroller
Use strollers and car rides if needed
My kids both sleep well when they are moving. If one is resisting a nap and starting to get into over-tired tantrum central I make a nap happen with a car ride or stroller. Stroller naps are also great on vacation because you don’t have to stay in your room. We bring our kids asleep in the stroller to dinner and out at night. The ZoeXl2 stroller below is great when space is tight and you can’t bring a full-size stroller on your trip. This stroller has practically every feature that a full-size stroller has but folds flat for easy storage. The sun canopy is fully extendable and is definitely the best part! See my toddler travel hacks post for more on strollers on vacation.
Baby-wearing on vacation is essential. Our youngest absolutely loves to be in the carrier and the carrier is a great way to make a nap on the go happen. Babywearing also can help for the middle of the night wake ups, when our first was still waking up in the night we used the carrier to get him back to sleep. My favorite carrier currently is the MiaMilly carrier I got off Kickstarter. I like that it carries most of the weight on the hips and doesn’t hurt my shoulders/back.
My eldest son uses a child-friendly alarm clock to know when to wake up in the morning. He knows to get up “when the bunny is sunny!” Usually, if my son wakes up early, he won’t go back to sleep, but he will stay quiet if we remind him to wait for the bunny. This has been especially important when our younger son is still (blissfully!) sleeping in. We bring the alarm clock for traveling ESPECIALLY if there will be a time change, it is a must-have!
This suit really is magic! For real. My youngest son was taking 30-minute naps until we used this suit and now he sleeps 3 hours a nap. I can not recommend this product enough. It’s great because its easily packable and helps to create a similar sleep environment even if the crib, playpen, bed etc is different than whats at home.
We use the Phil and Ted’s traveler on vacation and I absolutely love this crib. It is super compact and light, it is longer than a typical playpen which is great for taller children, and it is easy to set up. Depending on our accommodation we may also use the crib/playpen they provide but it is nice to have something that my kids are used to so that its another familiar thing in their bedtime routine.
Plan flight times with naps in mind
Depending on the length of the flight and the temperament of your child you may want to plan a flight that coincides well with nap time. Usually, I put the baby in the baby carrier 30 minutes before the flight boards and start walking. Hopefully baby will be asleep for the first half of the flight this way.
If you are planning to take a red-eye flight with your little one, check out these awesome tips by ‘Have Diapers, Will Travel’
Use a baby monitor to enjoy your vacation
The last thing I want to do on vacation is sit in a small dark room from 7 pm onwards. When we go on vacation we always bring our baby monitor with us. This is why we tend to prefer suites or villas that have a separate bedroom or even better a pool or lounge space close by. Occasionally we haven’t had room for our monitor or the concrete walls have interrupted the signal. In this case, we use the app iCloud baby monitor. It works on wifi so as long as you are connected to wifi you can keep an eye on your kids.
Dealing with Jet Lag?
Jet lag in toddlers is the worst! I have to admit we have been a bit reluctant to travel too far out of our time zone with kids at this point. The most we have done is a 4 hour time change. I was surprised at how quickly our kids adjusted simply by keeping them up a bit later on the first day. On the way home when our kids needed to start going to bed earlier we did use some melatonin for our toddler. Of course, we talked it over with our pediatrician first, and I would always recommend doing this too. We found it really helpful for getting him back on track!
Wishing sleepy dust for your next vacation!