“I’m so glad to be back in my own bed.”
After even a couple days away from home, we all seem to like the comfort and warmth of our own bed. Even if we’ve visited our childhood home and slept in our former bedroom, there’s still no place like home.
Our babies and children are no different. They just can’t express it as we can.
Regular sleeping time
Those of us who travel a lot have a ritual we use to sleep better in a hotel or someone else’s house. It may be a special pillow, eye mask, essential oils, or a regular bedtime. Often it’s something that we do all the time, which reminds us of home. We can help our little ones by using some of the same techniques.
It’s hard to maintain regular nap times while traveling because we are often at the mercy of other’s schedules. When booking airline or arranging to ride with someone else, try to travel at a time when your child is fully awake. The travel will be tiring enough. Having to board a plane at nap time can be cause for a meltdown.
Remember time zone changes when thinking about sleeping times. If the kiddos go to bed at 8 p.m. on the East coast, remember that is only 5 p.m. on the West coast. If the trip is only for a couple of days, go with it. Of course, not all activities can be done on the home time zone schedule. If the hours can be maintained as closely as possible, you and your little one will have a better trip.
We’ve traveled more miles with our very young children than most adults have traveled in their lives. Whether we were visiting relatives, on a family adventure, or at a conference, we’ve tried to maintain routines of bath and reading before bed. As a family, this is a time to be extra full of grace toward one another and to go with the flow as much as possible. Even if bedtime was different than at home, you can help your child prepare for sleep in body and mind with just a few simple steps that remind them of their routine.
The all-important 'woobie' – a favorite blanket, stuffed toy, pacifier, or pillow. Our beanie-boos go everywhere, even for our son at age 9. These items provide a flavor of home and security when sleeping in a strange place. Be sure to have this important item with you, in the diaper bag or carry-on bag. This familiar and loved item may be enough to calm and relax a tired child while en route to the destination.
If your child is used to a nightlight at home, take it with you on your trip. It will provide a sense of security if your child wakes up in the middle of the night. Our son has a turtle that shines light in the shapes of stars on the ceiling. No other nightlight has worked as well for him.
Most hotels will provide a crib. However, some children aren’t comfortable in a bed that’s not their own. Very young children may wake up and be frightened when they see they are in a strange place. Be prepared and think about this scenario before bedtime. Cuddling with you before bed assures your children this is a safe place.
As with other aspects of traveling with children, extra time and careful preparation makes sleeping away from home easier and more enjoyable for all of you.
What tips and tricks do you have for helping baby sleep when away from home?