With over 20 years of industry experience, read Lisa’s top tips for maintaining your child’s sleep routine while on holiday.
The holidays are upon us, which means plenty of gatherings, late nights, possible travel and our usual routine being ‘out of whack’.
While socialising and holidaying are both incredibly important for our mental health, it is often a stressful time for parents who are trying to maintain their littles ones’ sleep routine.
One of the key things I tell my clients is that it is completely OK to say no to events that might impact your baby or your family. Sometimes, too many events can be incredibly stimulating and tiring — particularly for new mums and bubs. It is important to recognise when enough is enough!
But, if you are getting out and about and your baby needs to sleep in different environments — how can we make this easier on everyone?
One of the things I love about working in sleep is the ability to create cues and sleep associations which allow your child to know when it is time to sleep. If needing to sleep elsewhere, take your baby’s most familiar sleep cues with you. For example, white noise, a comforter, a sleeping bag or a bedtime book. If they are sleeping in a portacot, take the linen from their normal cot and use that on the portacot. Babies learn through their senses and having something that smells like home will help them sleep in a new environment. With my little ones, I would use a room spray in their bedroom in the weeks leading up to our holidays so it became familiar, and would then take the spray with me to our accommodation to create a familiar scent in my child’s sleep environment.
I also recommend practicing naps at home in the portacot so that they aren’t doing it for the first time in a new environment. Practice makes perfect, right? It’s important to relax your expectations here — your child may take longer to settle, and might need a few days to adjust.
I also suggest to parents that if you know you will be going to have back-to-back late nights or long days, try to find a break day in between events where you are at home all day, so your baby can catch up on lost sleep.
In terms of travel, aim to be traveling (by car or plane) when your baby is due for a nap. The motion and sounds can help lull them to sleep and make for an easier ride. If traveling by car, I always plan for breaks with fresh air to eat and play before recommencing the trip in the car for another nap time. It might mean it will take longer but it should also guarantee a happy baby for the journey!
If you are holidaying, don’t forget to try and keep the baby’s bedroom nice and dark. Temporary ‘hacks’ can include aluminium foil on the windows, or a black sheet to keep natural light out.
Despite the above, your mindset however is key. This period of time isn’t forever — we call it the silly season for a reason! Routines are bound to be different and sleep can go a bit off kilter, but it is a short term situation. Know that once it’s all over, you can get your baby back into their great sleep habits by spending a few days at home nailing naps and night-time sleep without disruption.
Lisa is the founder of Cherish Your Sleep, Co-Regional Director (Australia/Pacific) of The Association of Professional Sleep Consultants, an experienced certified baby/child sleep consultant and a mother to 3 young children.
She has always loved children and has worked in the industry for over 20 years as a qualified child care worker, working primarily with children aged 0 – 3yrs.
A successful outcome is not only good for the parents and children, but also giver Lisa a sense of satisfaction and happiness – there’s nothing better than hearing from a parent who finally got their first full night sleep since having a child.
Becoming a mum and meeting and seeing other mums struggle with their babies and children’s sleep made Lisa really want to reach out and help. She doesn’t see that there is a one size fits all to helping families – sleep is almost like a Puzzle – you need all the pieces in place to achieve the full picture and those pieces are what she shares with families.
Lisa uses a holistic approach to sleep, focusing on emotional wellbeing of families and ensuring the parent child connection in not only maintained, but enhanced. She knows how easy it is to become overwhelmed and frustrated, so it’s her passion to help find solutions that will work for you, your baby and the rest of your family.