Traveling with Baby: Everything You Need to Know about Sleep and Travel
You want to create priceless memories with your baby and this can often mean that you want to travel. However, many parents believe that when a baby is born, all your travel plans have to come to a halt.
Stopping all forms of travel because you have a baby is definitely not necessary. I know this because when I had my first newborn, I travelled a lot. As a matter of fact, when each of my children were small babies I travelled, not just locally, but internationally.
How did I do it?
It was a lot easier than you think.
Check out this video with tips on traveling with a baby:
While your baby is still small and mobile it is the best time to travel. I’m not saying it is going to always be easy or that you will be able to travel seamlessly, but I am saying it can be done. When you look back on your trip, you will see it was a lot better than you had originally imagined.
You might be wondering:
How do you travel with a baby?
There are some true and tried tips that you can use to have a successful trip with your baby. These tips helped me survive traveling with a newborn and you will survive both the traveling and get some rest at the same time too.
Start with a well-rested baby.
Before you hit the road, the air or the sea, you want to be sure that you get started when your baby is already rested. Therefore, while you are getting ready to take the trip, you want to be assured that your baby’s sleep schedule isn’t disturbed during the planning and prepping process.
There is so much that needs to be done before you take off, such as tying up loose ends, running errands, packing, and so much more. To ensure that your baby gets the best possible start to travel, you want to get as much preparation done as possible around your babies schedule. Working around my baby was key to starting any trip I took with my newborn.
The last thing I wanted and I know it’s the last thing you want, is to start a trip with an already cranky baby. By working around your baby’s schedule, like I did, you are sure to get off to a good start as your baby is already rested.
Plan Your Accommodations Carefully.
The first thing I thought about when planning accomodations was how I was going to maintain as much of my babies routine as possible while away from home. If your baby is used to co-sleeping or sleeping in their own room, you want to try to replicate this.
Bring the sound machine, the mobile or even that special blanket your baby loves so much. Having my newborns favorite blanket on hand was a lifesaver. You want to maintain as much “normalcy” for your baby as you can. If creating a sense of normal means getting a hotel room with an attached living room or asking relatives for separate sleeping spaces for you and your baby, do it.
You might groan and think:
What if I don’t have a portable bed my baby sleeps in?
If you don’t have a portable bed that your baby even naps in, then you might want to consider getting one a month or two before you travel and get them used to it. As all mothers will attest, I know I will, when traveling with a baby, if you want them to sleep and get some sleep yourself, making their sleep space as similar to what they are used to as possible will be a game changer.
Stick to a routine.
Traveling is fun when it is impulsive, but you don’t want to do that with a little baby. Instead, you want to stay as close to your baby’s normal routine as you possibly can. That means when you usually have nap time, book reading or even play time, you want to maintain those times when away from home.
However, you don’t need to stop everything to let your baby have a nap. When I was travelling, I often let my baby sleep in the stroller while we were out. Sure, we missed some great pictures with an awake baby, but she kept her routine and I kept my sanity.
At the hotel, I would make it close to what her nursery looked like at home, here is how:
- I created a designated changing place. I would lay a change mat, diapers, creams and powders down in one area that I would change her in like I would on her change table at home.
- Designate a play area. I would lay out her favorite toys and trinkets in an area that wasn’t far from where she slept to replicate her play space in her bedroom.
- Arrange a makeshift kitchen with bottles and accessories in one designated spot such as the bathroom. This is more for your sanity than your baby’s.
By arranging things in a way that is familiar, you are providing your baby with a sense of normalcy so that they don’t feel out of their element. You may think your baby has no clue how it works, but trust me, your baby will recognize things are different unless you try to replicate home.
Likewise, maintain a normal bedtime routine. If you are out of your time zone, try to stay on the same schedule your baby is used to at home.(Please note: This only works if you are a couple of hours different in time.) If your baby is used to snuggles or a bath before bed, maintain that routine while on vacation. I would bath my baby and then we would have some play time where I would talk to her after bath, she loved that time and so did I. It also helped her go to sleep easier when I replicated that routine at the hotel.
What if that’s not possible?
If you find that no matter how hard you try, you cannot replicate the routine your baby is used to, try to keep it as similar as possible. Even if you have to make adjustments. A baby carrier in lieu of snuggles or a quick wash down with a face towel in lieu of a bath. However, you need to do it, make the adjustments to keep the routine as similar as possible. There are times I couldn’t get that one on one time at bedtime with my baby, as long as I tried to give her my full attention, she seemed alright with that.
Bend those rules a little.
When you have been living a very strict routine and strict ways of going about anything, while you are on vacation, now is the time to bend those rules. Yes, that means to relax and have fun. Enjoy time with the grandparents, relatives, friends or visiting new sights.
Try not to stress about the changes affecting your baby too much. When I allowed all the rules to bend a bit, I had more fun and my baby felt more relaxed. Your baby will return to “normal” when you get back home. Even when I was on the other side of the world and couldn’t do things the way I did back home, by bending the rules some, I felt less anxiety and in turn my baby was calm too. It was not nearly as difficult as I had thought it would be.
As long as your baby seems happy and is not crying all the time, don’t stress over how much sleep they are or aren’t getting. Don’t stress over the fact that they missed a bath one night. You want to enjoy this time and make memories. My baby didn’t suffer in any way from a broken routine here and there and neither will yours, promise.
What happens on vacation, stays on vacation.
No matter how much you had to veer away from your baby’s usual routine, when you get back home, start back at the routine you left off with before you went on your travels. Honestly, I was more worried about going home then going away. I was concerned my baby would not get back to the routine we had her on before we left. However, when I got home and I started that routine again, we had a few rough nights, but she fell back into the same routine within a couple of days.
Your little baby will go back to the same routine that they were on before you left for your trip. Babies are a lot more flexible than you might think they are. You can come home from a hectic vacation and go right back into the routines you left off with and not be any worse for the wear. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to go back to routine.
Make the travel a memorable one.
You might be thinking:
My baby won’t remember anything from this trip!
You are right, your baby probably won’t. However, you will. You still want to make it as memorable as you possibly can. Now that three of my four kids are teenagers, their hectic schedules and mine don’t allow for much time together. However, I can count on quality time with them when I pull out old travel photos and journals. At those times I have their undivided attention as I tell them stories about those travels and we go through the photographs.
Here are tips to make it memorable:
- Take many pictures and make sure you are in them. Don’t just snap pictures of your baby while on a trip, make sure the whole family gets in on the photos.
- Keep a journal or a travel scrapbook. Write down exciting things that happened and keep track of what you did with your baby.
- Purchase a few souvenirs. Even if you are visiting grandparents or relatives, make a couple of small memorable purchases while you are there.
Utilizing these memorable tips can help keep the vacation alive years from now. When your baby grows up and is old enough, those photos and journals along with artifacts are great things you can share with your little one about the vacation they took when they were young. You will love going through them just as much as your child will.
Don’t shy away from travels when you have a small baby. It is possible to have a great vacation or to travel with your baby, especially when they are still young. I had some great travels with my kids when they were newborns and you can too.
Keep in mind thetips listed above to help you travel successfully with your baby. Do you have travel tips that weren’t mentioned here? That’s great! Be sure to tell us about any true and tried travel tips you may have that can help other parents have a successful trip with their little ones. Leave your comments below.
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