Getting your bundle of joy to sleep is hard enough when you’re on your home turf. But when you take your child on a plane or on the road, the problem is often made ten times worse. Sleep is vitally important for all of us, especially so for our little ones. We asked a sleep advisor about different ways to help your child sleep peacefully while traveling.
Their bodies and minds are developing so quickly in the early years that any disturbances to their slumber can have a much longer effect. In the short term, however, if your little one is sleep-deprived they’re going to be cranky, irritable and frankly not much fun to be around. That makes for an unhappy travel companion! So, it’s in everyones best interest to make sure your cub (or cubs) get sufficient rest when you’re on the road.
Now, knowing your kids need more sleep and making sure they get it are often two very different things entirely. Don’t despair, before you cut your trip short and book the first flight home, take advice from a sleep advisor.
Four ways to help your child sleep peacefully while traveling:
1 – Bring their bedtime with you
The single most effective way to make sure your youngster gets enough sleep, home or away, is regularity. Human beings and especially little child-sized ones adore routine. Having a regular bedtime for your child, and never wavering from it, is essential. By adhering to a routine, your child will naturally start getting sleepier as that time approaches.
Now, traveling with bedtimes can be tricky as time zones can wreak havoc with our internal clocks and baby jetlag is a real thing. But, after a day or three of adjustment, crack down again and reinforce their tried-and-tested bedtime routine.
2 – Keep it dark
When you’re trying to stick to a rigid bedtime on the road you may find the sun is your enemy or (hopefully) your best friend, depending of course when and where in world you’ve traveled to.
Find yourself in Northern Europe in the summertime for instance, and the sun might not set until hours after your bedtime, let alone your nippers usual appointment with sleep. If that’s the case, you’re going to have to head inside early and start closing curtains and dimming lights while the sun is still high in the sky.
You might have to fight against every instinct in your body to do this. If you’re anything like me, the sun is probably half of the reason you went traveling in the first place! But getting the tots put down on schedule is worth the sacrifice. There will be plenty of time to top up on vitamin D in the morning.
3 – Get them tired, but not too tired!
After keeping to a strict bedtime schedule, the next best thing you can do to ensure your child sleeps peacefully through the night when traveling is to exhaust them during the day. Now, depending on where you are this shouldn’t be too hard. Just point them at the pool and get plenty of fresh air outside! If there’s no pool close by, then just head out and run around the parks like madhatters. Use your imagination, go chase the squirrels in the park, run up and down a hill, do whatever, just get those little kids tired.
Be careful, however, to allow at least one hour of ‘wind down time’ between any mad bouts of exuberance and bedtime. Too much exercise too close to bedtime will have them all pumped up and overstimulated. Instead, once you’ve burnt off some energy, take them inside and slowly begin to bring down the pace of activities. Engage them in something more low key, such as a puzzle, some drawing or a story.
4 – Bring comforts from home
Packing for a trip is an art form. Knowing what to bring and what to leave behind requires careful consideration. Oftentimes we leave things behind simply for reasons of weight. Sometimes, however, for the sake of our children’s sleep it could be worth splashing out on slightly more baggage allowance.
Children are usually sensitive little creatures, we all know this. They know what they like and they respond, lets just say, poorly to change. Dropping them in a new bed in a new room and expecting them to sleep soundly straight away is wishful thinking. New smells, sounds and even textures will contribute to a general feeling of being unsettled.
To be frank, the exact same thing happens to adults. Studies have shown when we sleep in a unfamiliar location one half of our brain stays on alert for danger, hampering the quality of our sleep. It doesn’t matter if it’s a five star hotel or not!
One way to try and trick your child’s brain is to bring along creature comforts from home. A teddy bear and a favorite blanket are obvious choices. If you have the space, even bringing along pillow cases and their favourite Buzz Lightyear bedspread could do a world of good. The familiar smells and feelings will put their mind at ease.
There you have it, four top tips to help your child sleep peacefully when away from home. When you’re on the road, having well-rested kids as opposed to sleep-deprived terrors will make the following day a holiday dream rather than a travel nightmare!
About the Author: Sarah is from sun-blessed California. She went from being stressed out every single day to becoming a chilled-out, laid back, smell-the-flowers type of person who loves life. And all it took was better sleep! Since that transformation, she has dedicated herself to spreading the good word about the power of a good night’s rest. She fully believes that if we all slept a little sounder the world would be happier place to live.