The best vacation or visit with family and friends can go sideways if you’re exhausted from sleepless nights with a baby. As a sleep consultant, this topic comes up a lot when I’m working with parents, and while there’s no predicting what babies might do when put to bed in a new place, there are some simple things you can do to increase your chances of baby (and you) sleeping well.
Practice Makes Perfect
If your child will be sleeping in a Pack ‘N Play you bring from home, consider napping your child in it a few times before your trip so it’s a familiar spot.
If you aren’t sure about the window treatments (or lack thereof) in a rental house, stick a few black garbage bags or a roll of aluminum foil in your suitcase. If you arrive to a less than optimal room environment, these temporary blackout shades may be a live saver.
Home Sweet Home
There’s a reason your home is, well, so homey. Bring a few items from home, like your child’s lovey and/or a crib sheet, to make your temporary abode feel more familiar.
The Time-light Zone
If you are traveling to a new time zone and it is light outside when you arrive, try to spend some time outdoors. This can help reset your child’s circadian rhythm and help her more quickly adjust to vacation time.
If you are traveling to a different time zone but will be staying for less than one week, consider keeping baby on your home time zone or meeting somewhere in the middle. This will make the adjustment on both ends a little easier.
Allow a few days to adjust to the new time zone on both legs of the trip. Generally, it’s easier to adjust to a new time zone than it is to readjust to the home time zone when you return (maybe because, like all of us, babies have a hard time getting back to reality). Allow one day per hour difference to adjust.
Do the best you can you keep routines and timing in place, but, after all, you are traveling so things will be different. Enjoy your time away and know that even if things don’t go according to plan, you can get back on track when you’re home.