The holiday season is coming again and we all want to enjoy our well-deserved vacation. But this is also the time when a lot of parents get a little nervous about how and what to do with the sleep schedule of the little ones. Does your baby finally sleep wonderfully through the night and has a good routine? Then of course you want to keep this as good as possible because it is a lot relaxed when everyone is well equipped.
As a mother, expat and sleep consultant I will give you as many tips as possible here. We have had quite a few flights and as a family we have flown at all ages (the oldest is now 5), short but especially long flights. Time difference can sometimes be a real challenge, but we must not forget that we are going on vacation. A time of enjoying and being together and for us often seeing family and friends again.
• Let’s start with the travel day itself, try to keep your child to the normal schedule of naps as much as possible. If this does not work, try to stay as calm as possible. A lot is happening and there is plenty to see if your baby falls asleep a little later that is no problem. Use the same bedtime routine as much as possible as you do at home and try not to force it too much. Along the way I find that everything is acceptable for a while and that everything can be done to help your little one to sleep and keep quiet. Don’t feel bad about this! As soon as you arrive at the destination everything will be fine again.
• Routine changes are the quickest way to end up with a moody and tired baby. So on arrival, try to get back into the normal routine as soon as possible. Sleep times, bedtime and the routines you use to let your baby know it’s time to go to sleep.
• If the situation is such that you have to share the room with your child, try to create something of a separation so that your baby cannot see you from the bed. Be creative with maybe hanging something from a blanket, moving the cupboard or something else. And please don’t take your baby into bed with you.
• Keep in mind that when your little one is tired and grumpy, you won’t have a good time either. So you better choose to follow their schedule and enjoy that when they are awake they are really cosy and relaxed.
• Tell family and friends in advance that your child is on a sleep schedule. It is also much nicer for them when your baby is smiling and cuddling instead of crying and resisting them. Maybe not everyone will be able to appreciate it, but you end up with a tired child and the more tired they get the harder it becomes to get them to sleep and let them sleep peacefully.
• For long flights with time differences, I must honestly say to make you up for a few difficult days upon arrival. You also suffer from the trip and the time difference, so take the time to recover. Don’t plan too much in those first days and try to get your little one back in the routine and sleep times. Often when you take the time to do that right away, you then take advantage of it for the rest of the holiday.
• And of course bring your baby’s blanket, lovie, sleeping bag, etc. What I often took with me was the fitted sheet from the bed on which they had slept. Unwashed in a plastic bag so that their own scent remained in it. The familiar scent reminds them of home and helps them settle down in the new environment and fall asleep quietly.
Remember that you and your partner know your little one best and follow your own instinct. In this way you ensure that everyone can relax (including yourself) and you give them all an unforgettable time!
Have a great holiday!