Traveling with Babies and Toddlers
Traveling with babies has got to be one of the tougher aspects of parenting. Aside from counting and packing diapers, wipes, clothing, pajamas, onesies, and endless baby accessories (think: hats, socks, bottles, bibs, baby food), it can be really difficult to keep your baby on their normal schedule when traveling.
Here are some ideas that can make your upcoming travels significantly easier – or at the very least, manageable. Because let’s be real – traveling with kids is never easy.
- Make sure your baby is on a very predictable nap and night schedule before you travel. The more consistent things are at home, the more your baby will know what to expect when you are away. This will also make readjusting to home much easier when you return.
- Don’t expect to have success sleep training when you travel. It’s unfair to expect your baby to sleep well in an unfamiliar environment. If you are in the middle of sleep training, don’t expect to see progress when you are away from home. Adjust your expectations and resume training as soon as you get home.
- If possible, try to time your travel time well with your baby’s schedule. If you know that your baby sleeps well in the car or on a flight, then go ahead and drive during those times. If however, your baby is one of the many babies that refuse to sleep in the car, then try to leave after your baby has had their first nap of the day so they will at least have had some rest on the big travel day.
- Speaking of the first nap of the day, don’t let this one slide on your trip. It’s ok if you want to skip a nap here and there when you’re away from home. I’m a big believer in life happening and kids rolling with the punches of family life. However, you and your baby will MUCH better off if they don’t miss their first nap of the day. The first nap of the day is the most restorative and will give you the most bang for your buck in preventing crankiness and overtiredness through the rest of the day.
- Don’t feel pressure to keep your baby up past bedtime just because relatives or grandparents want to spend time with your baby. Gently and respectfully explain to your family that it’s important to keep your baby on a schedule as much as possible so that he can be happy and function well the next day.
- During your travels, try to keep your baby on their regular schedule as much as possible – but at the same time, please don’t stress if things don’t go according to plan. Your baby is learning how to live, and part of life falling out of schedule and getting back on.
- When you return home, get right back on schedule As. Soon. As. Possible. Pushing this off can send you and your baby on a downward spiral of sleeplessness. If you don’t want your trip to haunt you for sleepless weeks after it’s ended, get your baby back on schedule the day that you return home.
- Download a white noise app on your phone or iPad and have white noise playing for your baby in the room where they are sleeping. This is much more convenient than packing a white noise machine and aids tremendously in falling asleep. Ask your relatives if you can stay in the darkest room in the house (if possible) and if you are staying in a hotel, make good use of the blackout curtains!
- For toddlers, try bringing this portable toddler bed with you, or have it shipped to your destination. It’s convenient to travel with, and with 1,200 amazon reviews, it seems to be quite a crowd pleaser!
Above all, enjoy your time traveling as a family. Don’t fret too much and everything will be just fine.