Getting Your Child to Sleep While on Vacation.
Guest Post | Whitney Roban, Ph.D.
Summer is finally here! Many families will be embark on a vacation this summer in the hopes of some relaxation time. Unfortunately, along with vacation relaxation often comes vacation sleep deprivation! Family vacations are known to wreak havoc on a child’s sleep. Sleeping in a new place isn’t easy for many adults, no less for children. Couple that change in sleep environment with changes to sleep schedules and routines, and you have a recipe for a sleep disaster!
As a Pediatric Sleep Specialist, I have many stressed parents calling me both before and after a family vacation. Before the vacation they want to know how to get their child to sleep while on vacation. After the vacation they want to know how to get their child’s sleep back on track once they get home. The bad news is that vacations do often cause sleep regressions. The good news is that, as long as you go right back to your pre vacation sleep rules, routines, and schedules as soon as you get home, within a few days your child’s sleep should return to normal.
In an attempt to avoid the dreaded vacation sleep regression, here are some sleep tips to use both before and during your trip:
You want the travel sleep environment to be as similar as possible to the child’s home sleep environment. Therefore, try to pack as many portable items as you can from the child’s home sleep environment. For example, if your child uses sleep aides such as a pacifier, lovey, or white noise machine at home, bring those with you when you travel.
Call the hotel prior to your trip and request a crib in advance. Many hotels are limited in the number of cribs they have in stock, so you want to make sure one is reserved for your child in advance.
Although sleep routines and sleep environments will change while traveling, do your best to stick to your child’s sleep schedule. For example, try to put your child down for a nap at the regular time, but don’t worry if that nap is in a stroller or a car. If your child has an early bedtime at home, try to stick with a bedtime as close to that as possible when traveling. This may mean early nights for parents or hiring a babysitter, but it will prevent a very cranky and overtired child.
Do not begin to implement a sleep training program at home if you plan to travel within two weeks. You need at least two weeks of 100% consistency in a sleep training program and it is almost always impossible to be 100% consistent in regards to sleep when you are traveling.
If you are not staying in a private home during your travels, do whatever it takes to get your child back to sleep quietly and quickly if experiencing a night waking. It is not fair to your neighbors in the next hotel room for you to allow any protest crying at night.
Do your best to stick to sleep schedules and routines, but don’t worry if this is impossible. For sleep trained children, it only takes a few nights of sleep re-training when you get home to get a child back to great sleep habits.
Family vacations are a great time to experience new things as a family and have fun adventures. Try not to let the stress and worry about sleep affect your ability to enjoy yourself. Keep reminding yourself that it is okay if you cannot follow your child’s sleep rules, routines and schedules while on vacation. Remember, there is no bad sleep habit that cannot be fixed once you arrive home. Knowing this going into the vacation, in addition to the tips above, will make for a smoother transition and a better vacation experience. Happy summer to all!
PEDIATRIC SLEEP SPECIALIST | PARENT & CORPORATE WELLNESS EDUCATOR
Founder of SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL, Dr. Whitney Roban considers sleep a necessity, not a luxury. She lives and works by one philosophy: parenting is one of the hardest jobs, made even more difficult when a family doesn’t sleep. Her mission is to give the gift of sleep to families through her information dissemination and emotional support based sleep training system, as well as her parent and corporate wellness education workshops.
With a Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University, Whitney began her career creating psycho-educational books and games for Childswork/Childsplay. She then took her expertise to the Girl Scout Research Institute where she authored national research studies in the youth market and reported the results in various media outlets such as television and radio. After taking time off from her professional life to be a mom, during which time she sleep trained her own children, Whitney formed SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL and has helped hundreds of children and their parents sleep soundly every night.
A native of New York, Whitney formed SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ in 2005 while living in Los Angeles. She currently lives in New York with her two children, ages 10 1/2 and 13. Dr. Roban is now devoting her time away from her two very well rested sons to help other parents and caregivers struggling with childhood sleep problems.