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Annette Faamausili, April 20 2021

Travelling With Children - How To Handle Sleep While On Holiday

After a year of stay-cations (or stay-at-home holidays!), things look to be improving. Travel bubbles are popping up, and overseas trips are possible again.

Is it time to dig up the passport and take a trip to visit dearly missed loved ones across the ditch?

Perhaps your little one has yet to meet family members, or perhaps you and your family are in dire need of a break. Either way, you are packing your bags and booking your flights.

But travelling with a youngster – particularly a very young one – can be a little daunting. How to manage flights, time differences and new environments?

Today we cover all that and more. Let’s prepare for take-off!

Travelling With Children – How to Handle Sleep While On Holiday

Flying With An Infant

Buckling into a plane seat with your baby can be a bumpy ride – and not because of the turbulence! There’s the fear of annoying the other passengers if your bub isn’t a fan, and the unknown of how they will cope.

The biggest potential problem when flying is ear pressure changes. Like you, infants and toddlers may feel discomfort when flying, but may not have the ability to manage these sensations by chewing or yawning.

Encouraging sucking or chewing can help ease pain in the ears, so have a bottle or sippy cup of formula ready or breastfeed your little one one during take-off and landing.

You could also ask your doctor about ear drops to reduce the discomfort, and consider special earplugs for toddlers that help reduce the pressure changes.

If your flight is a long one, do your best to keep a similar routine to the one you have at home. While the environment is likely to be hugely different from the norm, there may be rituals you can repeat to help encourage sleep – like familiar toys, comfort blankets, smells, or white noise machines.

Don’t forget to bring extra snuggly blankets as most airplane cabins veer on the chilly side!

Baby carriers and slings are great to use while travelling especially when getting on and off the plane and waiting in queues at the airport. It will also make transporting your sleepy bubs and luggage easier.   

If travelling with a toddler take their own set of headphones that fit properly and a device with all their favourite programs downloaded onto it. Most major airlines have a USB port on the back of the seat so you can plug in and charge your device as you go.

Top Tip

Before your holiday take a few video clips of everyday life (trips to the park, bath time etc) for your child to enjoy during the flight. Children love watching themselves on video and it’s a guaranteed way to keep them entertained.

For super busy children, take sticker books and playdough and use the pull down table for drawing and board games.

Coping With Time Differences

If the time differences are only off by an hour or two and your trip is relatively short, you might want to make life easier by sticking to their “home-time” schedule. Set your usual meal times, naps, and bedtimes to the clock back home, rather than where you are.

For longer trips, you could gradually shift the schedule by around 20 minutes a day until they have caught up to the new time.

Alternatively, why not start adapting your routine at home a week in advance of the trip so you can just roll into it once you arrive?

When time differences are more significant, it’s advisable to adjust to the local time as soon as you arrive, just as you would if you were travelling alone. Don’t worry if your child has slept a lot on the plane, it won’t have been quality sleep and they will probably be exhausted any way. 

Put your baby down for a nap at the new local time, and adjust your schedule around that (although you obviously don’t want to go too long between feeds or make your baby overtired!) Daylight, meal times, naps and activity play a huge role in helping your little one adapt quickly to the new time zone.

This method may be rough for both you and your wee one, but after a few days, you will both be used to the time change and be back into your old routine.

Adjusting To New Environments

The key to helping your baby settle in a new home away from home is to make the environment as familiar as possible. Pack a few unwashed sheets from home to provide familiar smells, and bring along their favourite toys, blankets, night lights or pillows.

If you use a white noise machine to help your baby sleep, put this to good use during your travels. It can help drown out unfamiliar noises – particularly if you are sharing a room with your baby.

Darken the room at nap time. Some hotel rooms make this tricky, so investing in some Sleepy Sundays portable blackout blinds to take with you can make life easier!

Babies thrive on routines, so sticking to your regular rituals can mean the difference between a grumpy, fussy, overtired bubs and a well-settled, well-adjusted child.

The Best Tip For Travelling With Children

My very best tip for travelling with children? Don’t stress!

I know this can be easier said than done. Travelling can be stressful even at the best of times! But do your best to relax. Your baby will pick up on your energy, so if you are worried, they will be unsettled too.

Do your best to stick to a routine, but allow for flexibility and break the rules when you need to. There will be plenty of time to return to your routine when you are back home resting up from your holiday!

Want to chat through a few questions about travelling with children on your upcoming holiday? Then jump on a phone consultation with me and we will come up with a practical plan together.

Written by

Annette Faamausili

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