Bring a Comfort Item
1. Stick to your at-home napping/sleep schedule whenever possible.
2. Plan travel during sleep times (flights/drives).
3. Always travel with a sound machine.
4. Have reliable motion and sound detection monitors (especially when a toddler is not sleeping near you. This will allow you to sleep and not worry.)
5. Bring comfort items from home that your toddlers use to sleep (favorite bedtime book/pacifier/ stuffed animal/sleep sack).
6. Be as consistent as possible amidst all the changes.
7. Make sure they have a full belly before bed.
8. Do practice small trips before a big trip.
A well-rested toddler means a well-rested mom.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Traveling out of town frequently, either by yourself or a toddler, can be challenging to adjust to, but if you plan and prepare, it can save you so much headache and stress. My best advice while traveling is to set realistic expectations for yourself and your toddler. If you know you will spend long days on the road or even in a new setting, be prepared for possible meltdowns.
If your toddler is sleeping in a pack-n-play or travel bed, bring familiar comfort items such as their pillow, blanket, and favorite lovey to make them feel more at home while traveling. Try sticking to your regular bedtime and routine as much as possible. This will help your toddler adjust to being outside their everyday environment.
Most homes or hotels you could be staying at with your toddler will not have blackout curtains or white noise sound machines. These items may be necessary to pack to bring along so your toddler can still nap. Packing curtains may be challenging, so black plastic tablecloth covers are a great alternative. They can easily be taped around a window and help block out any light.
As with all traveling, packing snacks, drinks, games, tablets, and toys for your toddler during your trip will keep them occupied and help if the area you are staying in doesn’t have toys or isn’t child-proofed.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
For moms who frequently travel out of town with a toddler, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that the child gets enough sleep. Here are some tips and advice from a sleep expert on how to get those much-needed restful nights:
1. Try to establish a consistent sleep routine before the trip. While on the go, try to stick as closely to this routine as possible.
2. Make sure your child’s bedroom is dark and quiet at night so they can get a good night’s sleep. If you’re staying in a hotel room, keep the lights off or use blackout curtains to create a soothing environment conducive to sleeping.
3. Bring your child’s favorite bedtime items, such as blankets, stuffed animals, or other comfort items to help them feel secure and relaxed.
4. Keep the noise level in the room at a minimum; turn off all electronics, TVs, radios, and cell phones before bedtime.
5. If possible, adjust your child’s sleep and wake times to correspond with the time zone you are in.
6. Give your child a warm bath before bedtime, as this can help relax them and promote better sleep.
7. Make sure your child has had enough physical activity throughout the day to tire them out before bedtime.
8. Ensure your child has had enough to drink, as dehydration can affect their sleep quality.
9. Lastly, if the room is too hot, set up a fan to keep the air circulating and ensure your child gets a good night’s rest.
Keep Your Routine
Prepare for a trip in advance. This includes researching any new sleeping arrangements, such as hotel beds or unfamiliar cribs, and setting up familiar sleep associations at those locations ahead of time (for example, make sure your toddler has the same blanket they have at home).
Additionally, I recommend ensuring that the toddler’s sleep schedule is as consistent as possible, even when out of town. This could include sticking to the same nap and bedtimes wherever the family stays. If your child needs a soothing routine before bedtime, consider packing some items from home, such as books, white noise machines, or anything else that provides comfort. Finally, make sure to plan for some downtime during the day while traveling to help your toddler reset and de-stress.
If you would like one-on-one help for cultivating healthy sleeping habits in your infant or toddler, contact us at Tiny Transitions. We’ve helped thousands of families create sustainable sleep solutions and can do the same for you.
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