But want to know a little secret? Your little one’s schedule doesn't have to be perfect. It’s okay if a nap is skipped, shortened or happening on-the-go. It’s okay if they have to stay up late so you can make those family gatherings… We’ve all been cooped up for too long and no one (not even your sleep consultant!) should make you stay home and avoid any fun.
However, let me also say that I think it’s important to stick to your little one’s sleep schedule whenever possible. Young babies need regular naps and all kids need their bedtime routines and thrive on predictability.
If you can stick to their usual sleep patterns and routines MOST of the time, then these special occasions that may cause a later bedtime or a shortened nap won’t be a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
This is ultimately what will help them cope during times when their sleep may be disrupted.
But if you have some travel coming up or baby will be expected to sleep in a new space and you want to keep their sleep in tact as much as possible - here are some tips:
Traveling by Vehicle
→ If you’re traveling a fair distance, consider getting up and going as soon as you can in the morning to allow for naps on-the-go for the young ones.
→ Plan lots of breaks - at least every 2 hours if not more often (especially for the fresh little newborns). This gives you an opportunity to get out of the car seat, offer some milk/food and change up the scenery a little bit.
→ Try to leave plenty of time after arriving at your destination to meet, eat, visit, and/or help the kids get accustomed to the new space.
Traveling by Plane
→ Feed baby upon take-off and landing or provide a soother if this is something you do. The sucking will help with the change in pressure in their ears.
→ Grab a nap for yourself before getting in the air in case you find yourself on major comforting/settling duty.
→ Potty training can resume at your destination.
→ Bring snacks and a sense of humour.
Regardless of your mode of transportation, know that naps can happen at different times and be of varying lengths during travel and there isn’t always much you can do about that part. So, try to go with the flow as much as you can on those travel days and get back to routine as soon as you can when you’ve arrived and settled.
Sleeping in New Spaces
When it comes to expecting your little one to sleep in a new or different space, it’s really helpful to bring some things that are consistent from their room at home. A sound machine, sleep sack, special blankets are all things that can help ease them through the transition.
You’ll also want to try spending time in the space they’re meant to sleep in but outside of nap/bedtime. This will help them get more accustomed to it, making it less “new” and more comfortable. Allowing Baby to play in the travel cot or hanging out on the bed with your toddler reading stories together can go a long way.
Remember, do your best to stick to your little one’s current sleep patterns to keep them well-rested. Then if you hit a bump in the road, just get back to their usual routine as soon as you can the next day and they will be more likely to fall back into the swing of things.
For more tips around travel and sleeping in new spaces, check out the Bringing Up Baby podcast Season 1, Episode 5 called Baby On-The-Go - available on all major podcast streaming platforms (Apple, Google, Amazon, Spotify, Stitcher). And follow @birth_baby_sleep on Facebook and Instagram for tips and strategies for your little ones all year long!