The thought of travelling with your new baby can be enough to send any new parent into a spin. I hear you – you’ve only just got their routine sorted, you’ve got them all calm and settled and now the thought of breaking all that apart to take a holiday is filling you with dread!
I remember the first time my husband and I took our then 8 month old over to meet the family in the UK. All I could think about was sleep…not only his, but mine too. I googled myself stupid looking at ways to keep my sleep resisting little man in some kind of routine. Since then, I’ve taken my three overseas almost every year and am slowly getting this travelling malarkey down pat.
Prepare Early and Pack Well
- In the time leading up to your holiday try to find a way to make your routine portable. Huh? What do I mean? Well, for example, if at home bedtime means, pj’s on, lights dimmed, massage, milk, story and song, try to emulate this as best you can even if you’re on a flight. For us we had the bath, massage, pjs, milk, story bit mapped out but didn’t have one regular song we sang. By introducing this song (for us it’s the Irish diddy ‘Danny Boy’) we used it as an extra sleep cue to signal sleep time was on the way.
- Introduce a natural sleep balm or pillow spray with essential oils that are safe for baby and signal the body for sleep. This smell will be familiar and comforting for baby in unfamiliar environments. If your baby is used to being massaged for bed, instead replace this with a sleep balm massaged into baby’s feet and chest so that they know, it’s time to sleep. The Sleepy Sundays balm is safe on babies from 1 month and will also work on you too to help you feel calm and more relaxed as you travel.
- If you’re flying, try to book the flight at a time that aligns with your baby’s regular nap time. Then they’ll be expecting a nap and should hopefully drift off more easily.
- Pack everything you need and a bit extra. Bottles, dummies, comforters, spare clothes, snacks, a familiar teddy, and a brand-new exciting toy they haven’t seen before to spark their interest.
- Wipes, wipes and more wipes – the antibacterial kind to wipe down EVERYTHING. The last thing you need is to pick up a germ on the plane and make the flight even harder! Sheesh!
- Try to create a dark space free from distractions to prevent your baby from getting overtired and over stimulated. Dark coloured breathable muslins, a light Sleepy Sundays Dohar Blanket or a dark coloured sarong work wonders as makeshift hidey holes. The fabric is light enough to let some air through, but dark enough to emulate dim lights when cabin lights are on full. If you have a curious baby this also stops all those friendly passengers making eye-contact just as your little one is about to drift off to sleep.
- If your baby is used to only sleeping in a cot, this is the time to try to get baby to get at least one of baby’s naps sorted in a pram or carrier. This means that when you’re out and about and enjoying the sights, you’re less restricted and baby will be used to being out and about.
- If there’s a change in time zones, try to transition your little one moving the routine by own hour or so to assimilate this new bedtime at least a week prior to heading off on your trip.
- Take baby’s current cot sheet with you for when you arrive – they love the smell of home and this will make them feel calm and safe in their new environment. You can even get them sleeping in their travel cot a few days prior to holiday so you can both learn to settle them well at home before heading off on your trip.
- Introduce a song that signal sleep – this was our big one and really worked. It seems simple, but two weeks before we headed off overseas we introduced a song. Now my kiddos only need to hear the few line and their eyes get heavy.
- Find a way to block out the light and create a sleep sanctuary for your little one no matter where you are.
When on the plane and at your destination, this is a big one. Babies need darkness to stimulate the release of melatonin and help their brains get the signal for sleep. Getting enough sunshine is also important to ensure the release of serotonin to help baby feel happy and relaxed and reset their body clock.
- On the plane if you have a bassinet try one of the overhead covers such as the Czsigo. Cozigo have a range of awesome travel products including a cover that fits over bassinets, prams and cots to provide a dark space for your baby to sleep. Importantly, these covers also provide adequate airflow to prevent over- heating.
- When arriving at your destination, try Sleepy Sundays Instant Blackout Blinds. This portable roll of blackout will stick to any flat glass surface and is 100% portable, blackout and recyclable too. If you’re staying in a lot of different places, you want to be sure you’re covered. All window covers are not made equal. Sleepy Sundays Instant Blackout Blinds fit to any sized window or glass door – covering multiple windows at once. Be sure to throw a roll in your case and don’t be tempted to just alfoil your windows! Alfoil can absorb heat making windows crack – not what you need on holidays or to keep baby safe.
- Try to book a hotel that has apartment or a villa style if possible. That way you have a separate room to pop baby in, whist you and your partner can relax without having to sit quietly in the dark. Remember, it’s your holiday too!
- Create a new holiday routine that works for you.
- I’m not saying routines aren’t important because babies love them (and for our sanity so do we!), but there’s no point being locked in your hotel room waiting for baby to wake up!
- Make sure you keep feeding times and nap times as close as regular as you can in your new holiday routine – keeping an eye on tired signs. An overtired baby can be an impossible to settle baby!!
- Perhaps instead of the first nap of the day being in the cot, try getting baby to sleep in their pram with a dark cover instead, or sit by the pool in the shade with your baby in their carrier also works well. You’ll find a rhythm that works for you all, and by keeping all sleep cues consistent hopefully everyone can get more sleep.
Have a great trip!