As a parent of a baby or toddler, establishing a good bedtime routine can make life easier for both you and your little one. But what happens when you’ve worked hard to get your child into a positive sleep routine and then it becomes disrupted such as when you go on a summer holiday or spend the weekend with family?
As many of us plan for a week or two of sun and sand, here are some effective tips on how to cope when you child’s schedule is disrupted:
1. Adjust to the Time Changes
If you’re travelling outside of the country then you’re likely to experience a time change. While small time changes may seem insignificant to us adults, they can make a difference to how your little one settles for the night. A good way to help your baby adjust to a different time zone is to show him a distinct difference between night and day. Include plenty of activity, talking and play time during the day and then quiet things down during the early evening.
Being on holiday doesn’t mean you have to feel pressured into keeping your child awake for the mini-disco or the magic show; he will have a far more enjoyable time during the day by getting the quality sleep he needs at night.
2. Make it Feel Like Home
Don’t underestimate the awareness of your baby – he will probably sense that he is away from home from a very young age.
When you’re packing for your holiday, make sure you include your little one’s baby comforter and usual blanket so that his sleeping place smells like home. A plug-in night light may also comfort your baby when you’re putting him to sleep in an unfamiliar place. And of course, don’t forget those all-important favourite bedtime stories!
3. Plan Around Your Routine
It may sound a little regimented, but planning activities and outings around your baby’s sleep schedule may make all the difference between a dream and a nightmare holiday! Think about it; you may be in the place of paradise but it will be a wasted journey if your child is unable to properly enjoy due to being overtired. Long day trips in the hot and stuffy weather, being carried from shuttle bus to shuttle bus or the hustle bustle of some adventure parks may be overwhelming for some small children who are adapting to their first experience abroad.
Keep to your child’s home sleeping routine as much as possible. If your child usually naps three hours after waking, then try not to plan any activities at this time. Most family hotels and apartments will have more than enough facilities to keep your child fed, entertained and happy during the day.
Of course, you can’t always avoid sleep disruptions and even if your child does have a few poor night’s sleep while you’re on holidays, things will soon return to normal if you maintain your regular routine when you arrive home.