My son didn’t sleep through the night for the first year. He was an around-the-clock nursing fiend and no amount of sleeplessness would get in the way of him and eating. After almost a full 12 months of waking up every three hours, we were all pretty tired. Fortunately, we got him sleep-trained in two nights and he has been an awesome sleeper ever since. (I don’t take that for granted, I am so glad because I know it could have been much harder!)
Even the best, most well-trained crib sleepers can be easily thrown off their schedule when you are traveling. We took a quick weekend trip last month and our son went from perfect sleep-through-the-night angel to screaming for two hours somewhere around 3 o’clock in the morning in a hotel room, probably waking up the neighbors (sorry, everyone.)
Moral of the story: don’t be like us. Usually the advice I give is advice that I have used and found to work. This time, my advice is sort of a try-this-because-we-didn’t.
- Bring your baby monitor. This allows you to put baby down for naps and sleep time even if you need to be out of the room. If you are traveling for a wedding, you might need to be at the rehearsal downstairs. You could bring a baby through their naptime, or you could leave them in the room with a monitor and just listen out. We didn’t bring any sort of monitor, so we had to keep the baby with us, even if it was his normal naptime. That made him and us overly tired and overly cranky.
- Stick to the same routine. Here’s our house routine: eat dinner, take a bath, brush teeth, read a book, say prayers, close blinds, turn out light, lay in crib, shut the door. We could stick to the routine almost exactly, except the blinds were giant curtains. Of course the whole room and the crib were different, but the routine was the same. It gave some sense of normalcy to an otherwise different weekend.
- Bring familiar sleep items. If your baby always sleeps with a certain blanket, stuffed animal, or noise-machine, use those in the hotel room. The routine I mentioned above will help them to fall asleep, and the familiar items like a blanket will help them stay asleep.
I’m sure there are more specific things that could help a baby stay on a sleep schedule even when your family is traveling, but I haven’t figured those out yet. I hope we keep traveling with our children and as our family grows. Even with the inconveniences associated with traveling with children, even with sleep, cranky babies, traveling with your little ones is such a great experience in the end, for everyone involved.