There's nothing that ruins a vacation faster than a baby who won't sleep and, as a result, won't let you sleep, either. It's difficult to enjoy some much-needed time away from the rat race of everyday life if you're too tired to keep your eyes open (or too grumpy to enjoy your time with your family). So if you're booking a flight and wondering how to get your baby to sleep on vacation so you can enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation, have no fear: there are a few things you can do to make sure your vacation is worthwhile.
When you've worked hard to establish a consistent bedtime routine, so putting your baby down for a night's worth of sleep isn't a battle every single evening, changing up that set schedule is not only terrifying: it can have some very undesired consequences. There are, however, a few ways you can minimize the disruption to your baby when it comes to their vacation sleep schedule.
The Baby Sleep Site advises parents to lay the ground work prior to going on vacation, usually by doing a few trial runs of whatever sleep situation you'll have while you're on vacation a week or two prior to your departure date. For instance, if your baby will be sleeping in a pack and play or a different bassinet, and you have access to that item before you leave, let your baby sleep in it for a few nights or naps in the comfort of their sleeping space, so they can gradually learn to be comfortable in a new environment.
The Baby Sleep Site also suggests parents recreate their baby's at-home sleep area in whatever environment they'll be in during vacation. The website BabyCanTravel.com agrees, adding that if, for example, your baby sleeps with a stuffed animal or noise machine, you should make sure those exact items can come with you so you can replicate how your baby sleeps at home.
If you are moving time zones during your travels, the idea of getting your baby to sleep in a new time zone might be a little terrifying. There are a few things to remember, however, that can help your baby adjust to their new time zone faster. Sleep Tight Consultants state that parents can simply start their day as though they're in the same time zone they're always in. It's also worth remembering that it might take your baby a night or two to get the hang of the new time zone, which the Baby Sleep Sites contributes to a potential increase in your baby's night wakings and daytime crankiness. The Baby Sleep Site goes on to say that if you encourage meals, naps, and bedtime in your new time zone, your baby will adjust accordingly within a few days and all will go back to normal.
Parents encourages caregivers to keep in mind that while baby likely needs as much routine as possible in order to sleep well on the road, vacations are the time for breaking just a few rules when it comes to naps or sleep. If you don't typically let your baby nap in the car or carrier, you might decide to make a exception when you're traveling, just so that you can see more of your destination without having to be stuck inside the hotel room. While that's fine, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, "If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or sling, you should move him or her to a firm sleep surface on his or her back as soon as possible."
Finally, renting an apartment or home can sometimes be easier when you're traveling with a baby. You'll be able to sit in another room while your baby sleeps in a bedroom, thus enjoying your vacation a little more than if you had to sit in a dark hotel room after 7:00 p.m. and when your baby is finally, finally, asleep.