I’m sure some of you will be going away for the holidays to visit family and friends. Many of you will be staying overnight for a few days or a week or so. Some of you might be going overseas. Does it raise the question of where should my baby sleep? Do you risk it and try a travel cot?
I know some of you have had trips away with a travel cot and it’s been all OK. However, I know of some disastrous trips away with a travel cot. Eeek! Christina had to travel back overnight because Matilda 10 months did not like her travel cot one bit and screamed the house down literally. Emma’s little one Raffy had a nightmare afternoon sleep in one yesterday. I get asked a lot about how to manage time away.
My top tips for great holiday baby sleep:
- If you have to use a travel cot then buy the comfiest and roomy travel cot you can. Travel cots have very thin mattresses and often have metal bars underneath. Check the reviews on travel cots, which ones are the best. Practice using them at home. Remember it takes 7-10 days to change a routine. Use for day sleeps and night sleeps. It may be worth padding underneath the mattress with blankets. Remember though it must be a firm flat surface as per SIDS guidelines.
- Take babies current cot sheet with you and don’t wash it. The familiar smell will help them.
- Have a plan. If you are planning to visit several family members and friends on your trip then try and have one base and either get them to travel to you. Having one sleep place can really make such a difference. Babies and children dislike change and will sleep better in the same sleep place. If family members get upset offer to stay at their home next year.
- One of the best ways to fit in a nap and also make the flight stress-free is to book a flight or do a road trip during your baby’s regular naptime. If your flight lands during the day, stick to your baby’s routine as much as possible.
- Make daytime naps a priority. Missing out on daytime naps can spell bedtime disaster. Once they’re overtired by bedtime they probably won’t eat their evening meal and bedtime will be a screaming battleground.
- Set your baby’s body clock by exposing them to sunlight in the morning. Going out for a walk helps produce more melatonin to help with getting to sleep at bedtime.
- If your baby is over 12 months use a toy as a transition object to help baby get used to it. Make sure it’s a toy with a face. Babies respond to faces better than other toys.
- Routines are important and create security. Stick to your baby’s mealtimes and his sleep times. Respond to tired signs rather than stretching sleep out.
- Feed to appetite and try and give similar foods and mealtimes as at home. Food helps sleep. Toddlers and babies under 2 years need a calorie dense diet with snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Calorie dense means low glycaemic index carbohydrates, high fat in the form of dairy, cheese grated into veggies, meat stews etc., avocado, oily fish. Snacks can be healthy and I’d suggest snacks like avocado on toast, banana and avocado mixed together, hummus and cucumber sticks, etc.
- Is the sleep environment dark and cool? The darker it is the better, as darkness triggers that neurotransmitter Melatonin that helps baby get to sleep and stay asleep. It may be worth taking a roll of tinfoil to put on the windows of wherever you’re staying. It also needs to be cool. If you’re too hot you can’t sleep. It’s really easy to apply tin foil. All you need to do is dampen the window pane with a wet dishcloth, apply the tinfoil /aluminium to the glass only and wipe over the foil with a damp dishcloth and voila a very dark bedroom! Too easy, lemon squeezy. Watch this video starting at the 50-second mark to see me demonstrate the application of tin foil: https://youtu.be/mBNyUpJrePU
- If you have a tricky and hysterical toddler at bedtime it is worth getting a chair and sitting on it by the travel cot and doing parental presence. If you’d like to know more I’m only a phone call/Skype/email consult away. It may give you a peaceful Christmas.
Sally, one of the mums on my Facebook page gave me this feedback, “We have the Phil and teds which I thought was amazing. Fits into a suitcase, only weighs a few kg and GREAT if you want to do parental presence with bub as the side can zip away. The major downside is that it can easily be tipped over by a determined toddler so watch out if bub is standing.”
The Baby Bjorn travel cot is also a favourite of many parents. but I’d love to hear if you have a perfect travel cot? I’m sure the parents out there will be grateful for the share 🙂
If things do end up going pear shaped nothing is ever a disaster and it can all be sorted on your return home.
This blog has some useful tips that may be helpful.
Enjoy your break and Happy Holidays.
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