If you are planning to go on a trip with your baby, you’re probably wondering if you’ll have to pack all of his bedtime paraphernalia in order for him to sleep well overseas. The good news is, you don’t! Tizzie Hall, the International Baby Whisperer and author of the Save Our Sleep series sheds light on how to help our little ones snooze well while on the go in a foreign land.
Will my baby/toddler be affected by jet lag if we travel? What if she does not sleep at the expected times while we are on holiday, or when we get home?
Travelling with a baby or toddler is very different from travelling alone. The main difference is that you will need to plan things well in advance.
When clients of mine contact me with concerns about travelling with a baby, the first thing I always tell them is that they will need to get their baby settled into a good routine a few weeks before the trip. I have observed over years of sleep consulting that children in a routine adapt faster and more easily to any new environment. This applies equally to children that are travelling across time zones or within their usual time zone.
Start a Routine Two Weeks Before Travelling
I would suggest putting your baby on one of my routines at least a week or two before you go away. This will help your baby feel safe and secure and make it easier for you to travel across time zones with your baby. A baby on a routine will adjust to time zones more easily because you adjust your baby to follow the local time when you arrive in the new time zone and this means your baby finds it easy to settle into the new time zone.
When you get to your final destination you may have to keep your baby awake for a little bit longer on the first night if he slept well during the journey. It is very important that you follow your normal routine at bedtime so your baby recognises all the sleep cues.
If you are staying with friends or relatives, ask them to make themselves scarce on the first couple of nights so your baby doesn’t get over-stimulated. On the first morning, put your baby straight back onto his normal routine at local time, regardless of how often or how early he woke the previous night or that morning.
If you find your baby is waking a lot more at night, try to settle him with some water and a cuddle, but if after a couple of nights this is starting to look habitual, try leaving your baby for ten minutes before you go to him.
Ensure Baby Feels Safe and Secure
It is also important that your baby feels safe and secure wherever you ask him to sleep, so I would recommend that you bring your own portable travel cot. If you don’t have one then try to borrow one off a friend or rent one a week before you go so you can test it and take it with you. Believe me, it is well worth it. The last thing you need is to find the hotel has run out of cots or they only have unsafe ones. I advise that you put your baby into the travel cot two nights before your trip so he can get used to it. This will lessen the impact of the new environment.
Give Baby a Break
Once all is settled and your baby is happily into his routine again, you can adjust the routine to help you enjoy your holiday more. The key to altering my routines is to try to avoid doing so two days in a row so your baby doesn’t become overtired. If you find you have adjusted things without causing a problem, try it for two days in a row. And remember that your baby doesn’t have to be in his cot at sleep times, just in a comfortable sleeping place, but do try to give him a comforter at all sleep times. If you find your baby is taking short naps rather than full sleeps while on holidays, don’t worry, try putting him to bed at night a little bit earlier.
Quite often parents find that their baby sleeps much better away from home if they are in a warmer climate, as the additional heat tends to assist them to sleep. If you plan to take your baby out at night so you can enjoy a meal, try to encourage an extra nap in the late afternoon as this will make him happier while you are trying to eat.
Finally, don’t worry too much if your baby gets totally off his routine. It will only take a couple of uninterrupted days when you get home to sort things out.
Want to find out more about how you can help your baby to sleep well? Come meet Tizzie Hall, the International Baby Whisperer, when she is in Singapore later this month for a series of interactive seminars and presentations. SingaporeMotherhood readers get $10 off ticket prices. That’s $79.90 (usual price $89.90) for the Pan Pacific Orchard Show (28 Sept) and $29.90 (usual price $39.90) for the VivoCity Amphitheatre Show (29 Sept). Just apply the discount code “SINGAPOREMOTHERHOOD” (all caps) when you purchase your tickets here.