Helping Your Baby/ Toddler Cope On Holidays
Holidays are a time for the whole family to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. To help you plan effectively, Natalie Ebrill shares her tips for a stress-free summer for yourself and your baby.
Sometimes preparing what you need to do in order to go on holiday is more work than what you need to do when you get back home! Are you sure you want to go? If the answer is "yes," I have some tips for you.
When you know that your schedule will be busy and that you may not be able to follow your normal routine, it is a good idea to plan as well as possible to avoid problems during the holiday.
The following list of simple tips can help:
• Making sure your baby can feed and sleep when he is due to.
• Planning meals, snacks, entertainment, and sleep times for your toddler.
• If you are going to be very brave and attend many social events this summer, try to make sure your baby/ toddler sticks to his normal sleeping and feeding routine as much as possible. Sometimes, events that you want to attend will clash with your baby's sleep times. Just remember that while your little one may appear to cope on one occasion, the missed or disjointed sleeps will accumulate and leave you with an overtired baby/toddler. Try and plan to have visitors over at your place rather than going out; this way you can be social and your children can sleep in their own beds.
• For those parents who will have their baby sleeping at other places over Easter or are going on holiday, it is a good idea to ask questions about the window coverings where your baby will be staying at. From experience, the window coverings at friends' places (especially those who don't have little ones) and holiday accommodations are never dark enough. While this may seem unimportant now, it will be the first thing on your mind at 5 am when your little darlings are awake with the birds because the sun is pouring into the bedroom, and prevents day sleep for the same reason! Purchase and pack a king size black sheet (or 2) in addition to some thumb tacks and pegs, then use your creative genius for creating dark bedrooms or you will never call it a 'holiday' again!
• Another issue to consider is where everyone will sleep during the trip! You may decide to share a room with your children so as to save some money during the holiday. However, this is the next best 'holiday killer' to the sunlight coming in, and is the reason for many of my consultations. Contemplate the reason for the holiday and remember that you are supposed to be enjoying yourself! If you can afford to, get separate rooms. If this cannot be arranged, try and create a visual barrier between yourself and the baby over 3 months of age. If your baby/toddler knows you are right beside him, he has a reason for waking in the night to see you! Especially when visiting relatives, most parents resort to feeding their baby to keep them quiet (even if the baby doesn't need it), and therefore start a new habit in one night!
• Before traveling, plan the best time of day for your baby/toddler's sleep. Make sure you all have regular breaks for feeding and massaging numb bottoms, and allow the toddlers to wear themselves out. Plan activities and music for the car and shade for the sunlight coming in through the windows. It might take you longer to get there, but it's better not to have a frazzled family at the end of the trip.
Final Tip: Plan for everything. Sleeping, feeding, playing, (refusing to sleep, feed, play), extra clothing, and unexpected delays. Most of all, be flexible and make sure your baby/toddler's needs are met, or you won't enjoy the season. There is a reason why many families don't go on holiday, you know!
© 2008 Natalie Ebrill- Sleep and Settle®-Baby Sleep Consultant 0-5 yrs
RN, Child and Family Health Nurse. Mother of three daughters.
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