You’ve saved your pennies, waited for warm weather, cleared your calendar and are now ready to take a vacation. To ensure your effort and excitement isn’t in vain, take the time to think about and plan how you’ll keep your children’s sleep on track. Nothing spoils the fun more than an over-tired, cranky toddler or baby or mom or dad or……

Take a look at my top travel tips to ensure that your little ones remain well rested and ready for holiday fun!

  1. Typical rule of thumb is a one-day adjustment for every hour of time change.  Your family will need that time to adjust to the new time and the same amount of time will be needed to adjust upon return.  If the time difference is 3 hours, then your internal body clock will need three days to appropriately adjust.
  2. Flights- When possible, book direct flights, scheduled during regular naps times. Make sure your child gets regular naps the days leading up to travel.  Fill the sleep tank!  On the plane, do whatever it takes to get your child to go to sleep.  Remember to bring their lovey and pajamas to change into if it is a night flight.  Get creative and think of ways to mimic their bedtime routine on the plane.  Also remember to bring a bottle, pacifier or sippy cup to suck on during take off and landing to help with ear pain.  Get as much sleep on the plane as possible.
  3. Once you arrive, use naps to help your child adjust to the new time and make it to bedtime.  Bedtime should be at the normal time of the current city you are in.  So if bedtime is normally at 7pm in California, your child should go down at 7pm New York time.
  4. Use exposure to sunlight to help set your child’s body clock.
  5. Prep the room where you are staying to be as familiar as possible- bring their lovey, crib sheet/blanket from home.  See if you can bring a nightlight because hotel rooms can be very dark with the blackout curtains.  Remember to bring plug adapters if you are traveling internationally.
  6. Keep bedtime routine consistent and be prepared to offer a little bit more reassurance to help your child get to sleep.  Sitting in the doorway or hall way may help them feel that you are close as they fall asleep.
  7. During the day, try and return to your “homebase” for at least one nap.  If this isn’t possible, plan sight seeing so your child is in the car during regular nap times, or bring a stroller for a motion nap.  Any sleep is better than none.  Adjust bedtime accordingly so your child doesn’t get overtired.
  8. Use the same strategies for your return trip home.  Expect some sleep regression and time to adjust to the new time.  In the few days after your return, make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for sleep.  If necessary, make a plan with childcare about providing additional napping opportunities the first few days back.

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