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Navigating Baby’s Sleep While on Vacation

As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, this is one of the top concerns many of my clients face when it comes to their baby’s sleep. Things are going great at home. Baby is on a solid schedule; sleep is great and everyone is waking up feeling rested and refreshed. Then, summer arrives and the vacations begin. I often get random messages from past clients either worrying about the impending schedule change or in the thick of it and unsure of what steps to take in the moment. Here are my top tips to ensure your vacation is fun and flexible.

1. Flexibility – Vacations are supposed to be fun. While it’s important to make sure your little gets plenty of sleep to avoid overtiredness, it’s equally important to remain flexible. Rather than focusing on their set naptimes, focus on sleepy cues. Place them down for naps accordingly. If you are out and about and enjoying family time, there is no need to rush back to your accommodations for a nap. Allow for a contact nap or stroller nap if the opportunity allows.

2. Create a familiar sleep environment – For naps (when able) and for bedtime, create the same environment for sleep as home. Bring along your sound machine, red light, sleep sack, portable blackout shades and pack & play if possible. Creating a similar sleep environment as home, will help baby acclimate to sleep while away from home.

3. Allow for playtime & stimulation – Often times when traveling, babies remain in carriers or strollers for an extended period of time. Make sure to allow for plenty of opportunities for movement & stimulation. Too much stagnancy will affect sleep, especially if baby is falling asleep often during travel.

4. Time zone adjustment – If at all possible, gradually begin a 15 – 30 minute shift in your baby’s schedule prior to travel to allow for an easier transition in their schedule. This will help them acclimate to the time change and make the transition in their schedule easier. Shift the entire schedule until you reach the new desired nap times and bedtime.

5. Keep healthy habits in place – Remain consistent in your baby’s routine. Try to eliminate introducing new habits that may impact sleep long-term. If new habits are introduced (because this is life & sometimes it’s easier in the moment to do so), that is OK. Just pick up where you left off when vacation is over.

6. Have fun! – Make memories and enjoy your vacation. While sleep and remaining consistent are important, it is equally important to enjoy your time together. Sometimes this means adjusting nap times and/or utilizing a later bedtime. Vacations are temporary and regular schedules will resume in no time!

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