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The holidays are coming up, and with all of that snow, sugar, and suspense comes traveling and spending time with friends and family. As wonderful as these gatherings are, they sometimes cause unpleasant setbacks in the sleeping department. You probably want to avoid as many sleep-related meltdowns as possible when you’re on the road, so if you’re looking for a bit of baby sleep help, you’re in the right place. We’ve gathered a list of five tips to help your child sleep through the night when you’re away from home.

1. Be consistent: Consistency is probably the biggest predictor of success in parenting, but it especially rings true for holiday sleep. There are obviously things outside of your control during holiday travel, but there are some things that you can do to keep your standard routine as consistent as possible. A few ways to keep things consistent include:

  • Letting your relatives know your child’s sleep needs beforehand and making a plan together to help meet those needs
  • Bringing along things that will replicate your child’s room environment as much as possible (sound machine, room darkening shades, favorite blanket/stuffed animal/PJs, etc.)
  • Protecting the nap as much as possible – even if that means hitting the road earlier or later than you’d like
  • Bedtime routine order (example: bath, PJ, teeth, song, book, bed)

The different aspects of your routine may vary slightly due to the new environment, but it may surprise you just how much you can keep consistent when you’re away from home.

2. Get the lay of the land: Before heading out on your holiday adventure, be sure to scope out the accommodations thoroughly. If you’re staying at a hotel, verify if they have cots or play yards available for small children. If they do, you might try having your child sleep in one of these at your home when you’re using your standard bedtime routine. If the hotel doesn’t provide accommodations for young children, your kid will likely be sleeping in a sleeping bag on some cushions. Again, it’s a good idea to try out sleeping this way when you’re in the comfort of your home. Taking a few nights ahead of your trip to get used to new sleeping arrangements can make the transition smoother when you’re on your trip. Additionally, once you get where you’re going, plan to give your child some time to explore the new space. Check out the hallways, bathrooms, bedside table drawers, and carpeting so that the “newness” becomes old hat.

3. Don’t cave to the pressure: When you’re around a lot of relatives, you may feel increased pressure to be the perfect parent and have the perfect child. Aunt Bessy always seems to have advice to “correct” the ways you fall short, and why does Cousin Harold keep raising his eyebrow at you when the baby cries?? Having people observe your parenting can be exhausting, but you need to do anything and everything to stick to your parenting guns. That might mean reminding Aunt Clarice multiple times that you need to be home in time to put your baby down and then putting your foot down when the deadline approaches. It’s no fun, but it’s possible to keep things light when you use humor. “Remember, Aunt Clarice – my baby turns into a little gremlin if he doesn’t get his nap. You wouldn’t want that…*innocently blinking* would you?”

4. Stay away from bedtime props: You’ve probably done some degree of child sleep training by this point, so you know just how important good sleep is for everyone involved. When you’re surrounded by a new environment, instinct might be telling you to get that baby to sleep as soon as possible – whatever it takes. But instinct is wrong in this scenario. You’ve worked too hard to kick those poor sleep habits to give your baby a chance to relearn them (and relearn them, they will!). That means no avoidable bedtime props (no pacifiers if you’ve kicked the habit already, no bedsharing, no rocking/singing/nursing to sleep, etc.). Just lay that baby down however you do it at home and get outta there. There will likely be more crying and subsequent reassuring and calming, but keeping your bedtime routine as consistent as possible will improve both your vacation and your return from vacation sleep.

5. Communicate more: Plan on communicating more with everyone across the board. Let your friends and family know that you’ll be making sleep a priority, and stress to them that everyone will be happier if your baby gets some sleep. If you have a toddler, you should also plan on talking with him about your new surroundings a little more frequently. You’ll probably have to explain the new room and circumstances a hundred times, and you’ll likely need to do a little more talking before bedtimes and naptimes to get your toddler calmed down enough to sleep.

And here’s one last piece of advice: be patient! We know, easier said than done, but it’s true. Children are creatures of habit, and change can be difficult. That said, the holidays are filled with fun activities, and everyone will make better memories if they get the best sleep possible.