Blog provided by Together Trust. Together Trust champions for the rights and needs of care-experienced children and people with disabilities, autism and mental health differences.
Enjoying an overnight visit, a few days at the coast or heading out of the country for a few weeks can be a wonderful time to enjoy family time together and create new memories. Without the right preparation, it can be stressful. As a parent, a priority is to make sure your baby feels comfortable and rested without sacrificing time as a family. So, in this blog post, we will be discussing some tips and tricks to ensure that travelling with your little one is a happy time for all.
There’s no place like home…even on holiday
Whether you are staying at a hotel, or with your Great Aunt Alice, the change in sleeping environment can be a tricky one to navigate. Babies thrive on routine and being in a new environment can disrupt their sleeping patterns and overall mood. To make this transition easier, try to recreate the familiarity of their bed in their ‘new’ sleeping environment. Take unwashed linens, blankets, and their favourite bunny from home with you. This way, the sheets and blankets on your baby’s bed will have the familiar smell and feel that your baby is used to, which can provide comfort and familiarity and a bit of consistency.
Another challenge when travelling with a baby is ensuring their sleeping environment is similar to that of home. Portable blackout blinds with suction cups are a fantastic solution. These blinds can be easily attached to any window, blocking out excess sunlight and helping to establish a soothing and dimly lit space for your baby to nap or sleep in. Additionally, if you’re unable to use blackout blinds, using clothes pegs to pin together any existing curtains can also help darken the room.
If you’re staying in a noisy location, creating an environment that allows for uninterrupted sleep is a must. A fan in the room can provide cool air and ‘muffle’ louder external noises, or a white noise app on your phone can work as well (at home, too!). Whether it’s the sound of ocean waves, rainfall, or simply the hum of a fan, white noise has a calming effect on babies and can drown out any disruptive sounds from outside. Remember to test the app before your trip to ensure it’s working correctly and just like you do at home, keep the fan – or app – running all night.
In addition to a cosy sleeping environment, there are also a few other things you can do to make travelling with a baby a happier and more comfortable experience for everyone.
- Firstly, plan your travel time strategically. Whether you are flying or driving to your holiday, planning your travel around the timing of their naps or bedtime can help minimise their discomfort and possibly make the journey smoother for everyone.
- Bringing an unwashed pillowcase (Extra pillowcases – Happy Linen Company) from home that they can lie on or lie against during their travel time can help replicate the feel and smell of home, making the change of environment more comfortable
- Dressing baby for their travel environment will add to their comfort. Aeroplanes can get chilly while cars can be warmer. If your little one is travelling in pyjama’s, consider a two piece outfit to make nappy changes easier. A footless onesie can also help cool their feet if they are warm, or you can pop some socks on if their environment gets cold.
- A small “baby travel kit” that includes essentials such as nappies, wipes, one extra set of clothes, a sealable bag for soiled clothes, snacks, small books and toys to keep your little one happy and entertained.
- Try to be flexible and patient during your travels. Travelling for anyone can be stressful and for babies their sleep can be unpredictable when they are away from home, especially when there are new sights, smells, sounds and faces.
- Get togethers are hugely important for everyone and perhaps this trip might be the first time your friends and family are meeting your newest family member. Adjusting plans or the timing of get togethers can be helpful so that everyone enjoys time together. If possible, get togethers could be organised during the daytime, rather than later at night when your baby might be overtired, overstimulated or overwhelmed.
- A few tricky nights at the beginning of your holiday (as well as when you get home) as you settle into a routine is normal. The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be for baby.
- In addition to the change of environment, consider your baby’s sensory experience, too. Everything smells, sounds, feels, looks and can even taste different. Bringing familiar items, snacks, washing powder and even baby food from home can reduce the number of adjustments.
- If your baby is settling later at night due to a change in time zone or a bit of travel upheaval, the morning after you are home start to wake them up 15 minutes earlier each morning and move bedtime 15 minutes earlier until you are back at your pre-holiday bedtime. Exposure to daylight first thing in the morning will also help reset their body clock.
- And finally, embrace the adventure and focus on making lasting memories with friends and family, rather than worrying about exact timing of naps and bedtimes. At the end of the day, time together with loved ones or as a family is precious and shouldn’t be missed out on. A missed nap here and there isn’t the end of the world, a nap or two in the car is fine, and a later bedtime once or twice is okay too. Following a bedtime routine on holiday, even if bedtime is a little later, will bring the comfort of the familiar and help with settling.
Whether you’ve been away for a few days or a few weeks, when you get back home spend a few days getting back into your routine at home. Be consistent with bedtime and try to avoid extra-long lie-ins. Set your alarm if needed to keep you on track. Try to plan catching up with friends at lunch time, rather than an evening meal for the first In a few days if it means that baby’s bedtime will be later.
Travelling with a baby doesn’t have to be a daunting. By following these tips and preparing well in advance, you can create a happy and enjoyable travel experience for your little one and for you too. Remember, a well-rested and content baby means a happier trip for the whole family!