Four tips for getting kids to sleep while traveling
Help your child adjust to new sleeping arrangements while away with these four tips for getting kids to sleep while traveling.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Protect-A-Bed, all views are my own.
Kids can be amazingly resilient when it comes to travel – much more than we give them credit for. Some kids are conditioned to adapt, while others just take it in their stride – and then there are some who struggle. I had one of each.
My first born was sleeping in the corner of rooms from the time she left hospital – she was six days old when a new business I had been working on launched – and so she was there at the opening night party sleeping in her capsule. She went everywhere I went and as a parent who has more than one child will tell you – that time when you just had one kid, life was pretty sweet when it came to getting out and about… plus she was a cruisey baby who didn’t mind.
My second born was a different kid, bless him. By the time he came along Immi was a toddler as well so it was just easier to leave them at home when we went out…. And this translated into our travel too. Visiting my parents in the countryside didn’t happen as often – and when it turned out our number two kid hated his porta-cot, well that made staying overnight a bit of an exhausting nightmare so we avoided it more often than not….
Fast forward 22 months and I decided that before Charlie turned two I would use up some frequent flyer points and visit friends overseas…. And take him with me. The reality of what I had planned really only kicked in about a month before we left when he didn’t sleep for three nights when we visited my aunt…
Before we went overseas I went into a bit of a panic as to how I would cope in a new time zone on my own. A couple of weeks before we left I took Charlie for a long weekend in Sydney – I used that trip to test out some tricks I had researched from friends and the internet… and they seemed to help.
1. Make it feel familiar.
If you have a bedtime routine that you go through, where possible try and emulate that so that those cues are consistent. A favourite bedtime toy or blanket should be packed (preferably at least 2 so that if you lose one the world doesn’t end), a favourite bedtime story, the same bath soap or shampoo can help too. Routines do get disrupted, but where possible stick to the same times as you would if you were home.
2. Keep it dark.
One of the challenges with new time zones and unfamiliar hotels is that you can’t assume it’s going to be as dark as it is at home. If your child likes it dark then be creative – move furniture, put them to sleep in a windowless hall or bathroom and take blackout curtains with you (we love the Gro curtains).
3. Make them feel secure.
Are there new noises or strange artworks? My friends stayed in a rental holiday house and had to take down half the artwork in the place as their 2-year-old was terrified of the scary faces – sometimes something that looks quirky to us makes no sense to a young child.
Maybe they don’t usually sleep in your room or bed at home – but on this occasion, it helps them feel safe. This is what I discovered for Charlie – he didn’t want to sleep next door in a strange room, he wanted to sleep next to me. And if he woke in the night he wanted to sleep right next to me – once I realised that made him feel secure we all had a good nights sleep – even though I had never co-slept with the kids before and had been quite firm about them sleeping in their own cots from day 1… sometimes you just have to do what you need to do for your sanity while you’re on the road!
4. Make sure you feel secure.
Kids pick up on your anxiety. Before my kids were fully able to sleep without wetting the bed I would feel quite anxious about nappies leaking or accidents happening – and as a rule hotels and friends beds don’t always have mattress protectors. The easiest way to plan for this (without any awkwardness for your host or your child) is to just pack your own mattress protector, such as the Protect-A-Bed Staynew Cotton Terry Mattress Protector. Ideal for spills and bedwetting (made with absorbent terry toweling), it’s also approved by the National Asthma Council Australia Sensitive Choice Program and Red Nose (SIDS and Kids).
At Protect-A-Bed’s recent Slumber Session event, I learned about all the gross things living in mattresses including that humans sweat up to 1L of body fluid per night (yuck!). After 5 years, half the weight of a mattress can be made up of our own body fluids, skin cells, mold and bacteria that seep into our bedding.
So the mattress protector is also about protecting you/your family from the actual mattress!!
Do you have any tips to add?
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