It is hard enough to take the plunge and sleep train your child whether you do it alone, use a book or you have a consultant. When you reap the rewards of sleep training and you and your family are finally having the restorative sleep you all need, there is no wonder that many parents fear sleepless nights returning. Going on holiday causes many parents worry for many reasons, let alone the worry of whether you have packed everything! When you have mastered a good sleep routine at home the anxiety of going away and it all going pear shaped is very normal! The fact is though; if you have established a sound routine at home for bedtime and nap times then your child is largely likely to follow this exactly the same on holiday as long as you keep routine and sleep cues the same as at home.
Remember, if you have taught your child to sleep independently and on holiday they do wake don’t let all of your hard work go to waste by allowing them into your bed or giving them a night feed. They do not need those responses if they have not been having them at home, reassure them in the same way you normally would any other night. One night waking does not necessarily mean they are back to old habits, as long as you are consistent in what you always do at home then they will be reassured. Try not to be too anxious – they are in a strange place, it may be hot as well; they just need to know you are still there!
It is advisable to take everything you need to make your child’s sleep space as similar to their own at home; any special teddy, blanket or even cup. Take a book that you read and a bath toy to ensure the familiarity of home. If you are travelling to a hot country and your child will be likely to take naps in the pram be sure to take a sun shade and a mosquito net. A travel blackout blind is also advisable if they are used to one at home.
Whatever your accommodation, it is a good idea to separate your child’s sleep space from yours as if they do wake early and see you they are largely likely to want you to get up and play! Be creative with how you do this- ideally you don’t want your child to be able to see you. If you can, set up some kind of ‘divider’ so they can’t see you. Once you have put your child down to sleep move out of their eyesight so that this does not confuse them, if they are not used to you being there at home it is likely they will be too distracted and will be less likely to fall asleep as they normally would. If you need a cot make sure you request one far enough in advance to ensure your accommodation can reserve one for you. Once you are happy with the positioning of the cot or bed make sure you keep it in the same place for the duration of the holiday.
Obviously, when you are on holiday you are not going to want to stay in the hotel room from 7pm every night so that your child can go to sleep! It is fine to let your child sleep in the pram but be mindful of where you go. Loud entertainment will likely cause disturbances. It is advisable to do bedtime routine before going out and have your child in their pyjamas so they can easily be transferred to their sleep space when you get back if you know you will be out late. Again, if you are out and about try to keep nap times the same and make sure you take your child’s favourite teddy or blanket to help them if they need it.
A holiday is for enjoyment and quality family time. Routines and consistency will be important and stick to it where you can but don’t beat yourself up too much if things don’t go exactly like they would at home. When you do return home and things return to normal again your child will fall back quite quickly into their routine so don’t worry!
Remember, it is a holiday – try to relax!
Laura, Babbaboo Sleep.
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