Baby sleep and travel is the number one question we received during holidays and vacations. Will travel ruin my baby’s sleep habits? Will he/she be able to maintain the schedule? Should we maintain the schedule or just let him/her ‘run wild’? How do we adjust the schedules when there’s a time difference? How do we handle his/her jet lag? Could you share some tips about baby and toddler sleep and travel?… These are only a few of the questions we received, so I’m going to try to answer all of them in this post.
- Try to book an overnight flight, as it will be easier to get your child to sleep on the plane.
- Definitely keep your schedule (at local time)! You can move it 1-2 hours up or down, but you should maintain your routines and structure while on vacation. For example, if you’re traveling to Southern Europe from the States, and your baby’s schedule in the States is 6am to 6pm; you might be able to move him to 7am-7pm or even 8am to 8pm.
- The first day at your destination, try to get as much sunlight as possible, as it will help your baby’s body set into the new time zone easier and faster.
- During the day, try to keep your child entertained and active. Exercise and play will wear him out and leave him ready for a good night sleep.
- Do the naps! Do not think that skipping the nap will help your baby sleep better and faster at night. That’s a common misconception, as they will get to their bedtime overtired and it will take them longer to fall asleep.
- During naps and night, make sure your baby’s room is dark; and continue doing your naptime and bedtime routines.
- Try to ‘recreate’ your child’s current enviroment as much as possible: blackout shades, favourite blanket, same pajamas, nightlight…
- Do not introduce bad habits or poor sleep associations. Do not rock your baby to sleep, let him play longer than normal, let him sleep on your bed, let him watch TV before bedtime… do not create bad habits that you do not allow at home, and that you will have to take away once your return.
- Feed your child at the usual mealtimes. Try to choose healthy, filling options, junk foods will only make the problem worse.
- Expect that it will take your baby between 2-5 days to adjust to the new time zone, especially if there’s more than 4 hours difference. Plan your stay and return accordingly.
- The adjustment on your return will be harder than on your way to your destination.
- Keep your calm, stay possitive and consistent and have plan beforehand. You should decide on your schedule (local time) and how you’re going to help your baby adjust to the new time zone, BEFORE leaving.
We hope this information was useful, and we wish you a great family vacation!