Guest blogger Natalie from Sleep and Settle provides advice on how to prepare for holidays with babies or toddlers.
Sometimes the ‘frontlog’ of what you need to do in order to go on holidays is worse that the ‘back log’ of what you need to do when you get back home! Are you sure you want to go? If the answer is yes! I have some tips for you.
When you know life is going to be busy and you may not be able to follow your normal routine, it is a good idea to plan as well as possible to avoid disaster. Simple things like:
- Making sure baby can feed and sleep when they are due to.
- Planning meals, snacks, entertainment and sleep times for your toddler.
- If you are going to be very brave and very social it helps to make sure your baby and toddler are sticking to their normal sleeping and feeding routine as much as possible. Some occasions will clash with sleep times but you will want to go. Just remember that your baby and toddler may appear to cope on one occasion, but the missed or disjointed sleeps will add up and leave you with an overtired baby/toddler and it won’t feel worth it. Try and plan to have visitors over at your place rather than going out as often, at least you can be social and your children can sleep in their own beds.
- For those parents who will have their baby sleeping in other places on holidays it is a great idea to ask questions about the window coverings where your baby will be staying. (Preferably ask a parent not a teenager, who will have no idea!) From experience, your friends’ places (especially those who don’t have little ones) and holiday accommodation never have dark enough coverings on the windows. This may be the last thing on your mind now, but will be the first thing on your mind at 5 am when your little darlings are awake with the birds because the sun is pouring into the bedroom and prevents day sleeps for the same reason! Purchase and pack a king size black sheet (or 2!) some thumb tacks, pegs and creative genius for creating dark bedrooms, or you will never call it a ‘holiday’ again!
- The other consideration at holiday time is where everyone will sleep! You may have no choice or may decide to save some money by sharing a room with your children in the holidays. This is the next best ‘holiday killer’ to the sun coming in and is the reason for a lot of my consultations. Contemplate the reason for the travel and remind yourself that you are supposed to be enjoying your self! If you can afford to, get separate rooms. If you can’t do this you will need to try and create a visual barrier between yourself and the baby over 3 months of age. When your baby/toddler knows you are right there next to them they have a reason for waking in the night to see you! Then especially when you are at the relatives house and you don’t want to disturb them, most parents resort to feeding their baby to keep them quiet (even if they don’t need it) and start a new habit in one night!
- When planning to travel, plan the best time of day for your baby/toddler’s sleep. Make sure you all have regular breaks for feeding and massaging square, numb bottoms and allow the toddlers to wear themselves out. Plan activities and music for the car and shade for the sun coming in the windows. It might take you longer to get there but it’s better not to have a frazzled family at the end of the trip.
Tip: Plan for everything. Sleeping, feeding, playing, (refusing to sleep, feed, play), extra clothing and unexpected delays!! Most of all be flexible and make sure your baby/toddler’s needs are met or you won’t enjoy the season. There is a reason that lots of families don’t go on holidays you know!
© 2012 Natalie Ebrill- Sleep and Settle®-Baby Sleep Consultant 0-5 yrs
RN, Child and Family Health Nurse. Mother of three. Sleep deprived parents; I want to give you your life back! Do you feel like you’ve read everything and nothing is working? Visit http://www.sleepandsettle.com.au for my free report “Sleeping Baby Secrets”.