Friday, July 6, 2012

Tips to Help Your Baby to Sleep Well on Vacation!

image courtesy of Pint Size Pilot
This week we are thrilled to feature a fantastic guest post by Tara Cannon of Pint Size Pilot; Tara is a mother of two and avid family traveler.  Her amazing website includes helpful tips and advice, destination recommendations, product reviews, and even a baby gear rental directory, allowing parents to not only survive, but actually enjoy travel with babies, toddlers, and kids!

Tara's 10 Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep Well on Vacation

 I’ll fully admit that when my youngest was a baby and we took him on vacation, we did everything wrong.  My husband and I said foolish things to each other such as:

“He can just sleep on the go.”
“Why spend the extra for the 1 bedroom? Let’s just get the studio.”
“9pm is the only reservation left for dinner?  Let’s wing it. He’ll be fine.”
“Maybe we could just bring him to the concert.”

All this was just plain wrong and many of our nights were terrible. Although I would still begin each day as an optimist, by sundown I would be reduced to pathetically muttering into my cocktail “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”.

A few years, many sleepless nights, and another child later, we have made some adjustments to maintain our sanity.  That said, I would like to share with you some suggestions on how to get your baby or toddler to sleep better on vacation.

1. Consider alternatives to the traditional hotel room experience.  Spend the extra money on a suite with a separate bedroom where you can put your child to bed and not have to hide under the covers with your iPad or Kindle.   Alternatively, consider a vacation home rental.  Companies such as offer roomier choices and have easy to use filters, allowing you to find something that will specifically meet your family’s needs.

2. Do not be shy about asking a reservation agent for the room that is most often requested by families.  All rooms/suites/apartments are not made equal.  Hotel review sites such as Tripadvisor can also be of some help (see the link on each review titled "see which rooms travelers prefer").

3. Go with a crib for your baby not a playpen whenever possible.  Imagine if you walked into a hotel room and found out that you would be sleeping on a double size futon.  I’m sure that is how a baby feels about sleeping in a playpen if they are not used to it.  Most full service hotels provide full cribs but if you are doing a vacation rental, you can always use a baby gear rental company.  Some will even arrange to have things set up before you arrive (see our North American Baby Gear Rental Directory).

4. Do what you can to create a comfortable sleeping environment for your baby by bringing along their favorite blanket or stuffy. If either of these is critically important to your child, bring a back up in case it gets lost. (Although I am very careful with our things on vacation “Mr. Seal” was picked up with the bed linens in Mexico recently and sadly,  never resurfaced.)

5. Bring along a few clothes pegs or some duct tape to allow you to create blackout blinds in a pinch with a spare blanket. This can be especially important if you are dealing with jet lag.

6. Bring a night light.  Not only may it comfort your child, but it will also help you navigate a strange room more easily.  If you are traveling abroad you may prefer one that uses batteries like the Mobi Glomate, rather than one that plugs in so you do not need to worry about a power adapter.

7. If your baby likes to soothe itself to sleep with a pacifier you can never bring too many! Stuff them in every pocket and bag.

8. If it will make you feel more at ease, bring a baby monitor.  Once again, if you are traveling abroad you may prefer to have one that is dual voltage such as the Philips Avent Monitor with DECT technology. (I blew a monitor up once because I incorrectly assumed it was dual voltage.)

9. If you are traveling to anywhere there may be mosquitoes, consider buying a crib mosquito net.  Put in on only after you child has fallen asleep or else the net will likely become part of a fun little game.

10.  If your child is noise sensitive you may want to consider a little background music (iPhone, CD etc.)  Also great is this cute little sleep sheep from Cloud B  that will lull your baby (or you) to sleep with 4 soothing sounds.

Sweet dreams!

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