Travelling with a baby may often impact on their sleep, but there’s no reason things need to get overly out of control. All my clients dread this time, but there are definitely things you can do in order to make a family trip as smooth as possible.
Read here my top tips on how best to deal with travelling and also ways to minimise that awful jet lag:
- If you are choosing to travel at night, try and ensure that your baby gets a good amount of restful sleep on the day of your scheduled flight. Avoid too much activity and overstimulation. Also ensure they are well hydrated in time for your flight.
- On the day of your scheduled flight, you should continue to do your normal bedtime routine ie: bath, dinner, pjs, and get your child ready for bed. There is no need to change them in to regular daytime clothes at the airport. If you have a baby younger than 2 years and you have a late flight, it is advisable to try and encourage your baby to sleep up until your flight in the pram. It’s a good idea to put a shade over their face so the strong lights in the airport don’t cause them to be too over- stimulated. If your child is over 2 years of age, it is recommended to let them have some time to run around and expel energy right before the flight.
- If possible always try and arrange a bassinet on the flight. Every airline has different weight requirements for the bassinet, so always check in advance so you are aware of your seating arrangements.
- To encourage your child to sleep better on the flight, take their favourite lovey, blanket and bed sheets as this will remind them them of their bed. If you have a bassinet, use your own sheets rather than the airlines so they have their own scent from home. This will likely bring on sleep rather than foreign smells.
- To avoid your baby getting sore ears at take off and landing, either encourage them to suck on a bottle or on a pacifier until the plane is safely in the air.
- When you arrive with your child to your chosen destination it is crucial to get them acclimatised to the new time zone as quickly as possible. Start your normal routine according to the new time straight away. For example, if you arrive at 7am (new destination time) and your baby normally has their first nap at 8.30am then stick to this schedule.
- Travelling is very tiring for a baby so they will likely want to sleep all day. Try and avoid this by waking them at the end of what would be your regular nap time. Letting them sleep all day will negatively impact on their night sleep.
- Make sure your baby gets sun exposure during the day and that they are well hydrated. This will assist in making sure their body clock is restored as soon as possible.
- Due to the fact that your baby will be very tired, they will likely not want to eat at their normal meal times. Try and encourage your baby as much as possible to eat in order to avoid them waking at night from hunger.
- Stick to your normal bedtime routine at least for the first few days when you arrive. Your baby will acclimatise quicker if they are not put too bed too late. They will also settle quicker if you are establishing the same routine as home and they know what to expect each night. This sense of security will help them to feel relaxed and more settled.
- When your baby wakes up at night it’s best to sit quietly with them and try to re-settle them back to sleep. Avoid turning on lights, TV and over stimulating them. They are waking up due to jet lag and need your help in order to go back to sleep. Helping them to stay awake for as little time as possible will help them get over their jet lag quickly.
- Avoid feeding your baby during the night if this is not part of your normal routine. It’s very tempting to feed your baby to sleep when they are continuously waking up at night and you are exhausted. Starting a pattern of feeding at night when your baby is not used to it, will mean that they quickly get used to this routine and you will need to do some gentle sleep training in order to correct these new behaviours when you return home.
- Try and stick to your normal daytime routine as much as you can, without it heavily impacting on your holiday. For younger babies especially, it’s important that their day time sleep is not too heavily impacted and they are still getting quality sleep whether in the pram or in their bed. Try and stick to the same nap times (if possible) so you have a better chance of getting your baby to sleep during the day.
- When you return from your holiday, it’s important to start your normal routine as soon as possible and follow the above as consistently as possible.
- If you are travelling longer distances, it’s normal for your baby to experience jet lag between 5-7 days. It’s a good idea to plan your holiday around this so you are not spending your whole holiday with a jet lagged baby.
- And last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy your holiday! As parents we often forget to have some “me time”. Try to arrange some relaxing down time for yourself, even if it means reading a book by the pool or having a bath with no little visitors watching from the sidelines!!!!
Also I found this amazing new product! It’s called a fly tot. It is a blow up cushion that attaches to a plane seat that allows your toddler to stretch their legs and sleep!! Now who wouldn’t pay money for that. Check out their website here: http://www.fly-tot.com.