5 Tips to Keep Your Child’s Sleep on Track When Traveling

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Ensuring your children are getting enough sleep is a must for enjoying vacations. Every minute of sleep a child loses during vacation adds to his or her “sleep debt,” which can throw off sleeping schedules and even cause behavioral issues. Jenn Kelner, a Family Sleep Institute Certified Child Sleep Consultant and owner of BabyZzz, offers five tips to help parents make sure their children’s sleep doesn’t suffer while traveling.

Follow these five child sleep tips before, during and after your trip:

1. Make sure your children are well rested before you leave
If your child’s sleep is where it should be before you leave, they will adapt well when they are away from their normal routine and schedule. You’ll encounter fewer meltdowns on the journey there, and they will sleep better in an unfamiliar place.

2. Bring along familiar items
If your children are used to sleeping with a lovey, make sure you bring it (and any extras in case they lose one!). If they normally use a noise machine, try to bring that too. By bringing the items they have at home, you’ll help them relax, fall asleep faster and sleep better. Also, don’t assume the room you’re going to be staying in will be dark, so bring along some garbage bags and duct tape to block out any light coming through the curtains, and vice versa, don’t forget the night light.

3. Continue your normal naptime and bedtime routine
Try to stick to your normal naptime and bedtime schedule as much as possible. If you are traveling to a different time zone for more than a few days, get their schedule on the new time as quickly as possible. It also helps to expose them to natural light to reset their internal clocks. Also try to follow your usual naptime and bedtime routine. This is comforting to a child, as they will recognize the sleep cues even in a strange place. If a child doesn’t get as much sleep during the day as they normally do, you can always move bedtime earlier to catch up.

4. Be flexible with your plans
If you’ve planned a jam-packed vacation that involves little sleep, you may need to adjust your itinerary. It may be disappointing to miss out on some afternoon sun and pool time in order to allow your child to nap, but it means that you can get through dinner and some entertainment with little fussing. Plus you can secretly enjoy a little naptime yourself!

5. Be prepared with a plan once you get home
If while on vacation your children don’t get as much sleep as they normally do, plan to put them to bed 30-60 minutes earlier than normal once you get home. It may take a few or several days to get back on track, but your whole family will be better rested and benefit from those extra zzz’s.