The silly season is upon us. For many of us down under, this can mean some hot and sleepless nights which will challenge your child’s sleep routine. Whether you are visiting family or friends, staying overnight at a hotel, driving down the coast or flying to another time zone, there are bound to be some bumps in the road. This is all part of family life. But do you know how to deal with what the coming season has to throw at you?
1.) New environment
When you travel, your child has to sleep in a completely new environment, which can often be unsettling. It is important to try to maintain as much of your home sleep routine as possible when travelling. If you usually sing to your child before bed, continue that routine while travelling. Bring your child’s favourite bedtime books and their sleep comforter too. You may find it beneficial to pop your child in their sleeping bag/sleepsuit to act as a sleep cue when you want them to go to sleep while travelling on the airplane. Keeping the bedtime routine as consistent as possible will help your child adjust to their new sleep environment and re-adjust when you return home again.
2.) Time zones
If you are travelling to a different time zone and would like your child to stick with their usual routine for naps and bedtime in this new time zone, it is a good idea to switch over to the new time zone as soon as you arrive.
3.) Missed sleeps
If during all the hustle and bustle of travelling and visiting family and friends your child misses a nap, or has a poor nap, I recommend bringing their bedtime forward for the night. An early bedtime will help make up for lost sleep and avoid your baby going into a completely overtired state. We all know that an overtired baby is no fun. And a baby who goes to bed overtired is more likely to have an unsettled night’s sleep.
On the flip side, if your child is napping well during the day but staying up later at night, you may find you have a grumpy bub the next day. Try to avoid going too far off routine so that the next day is not adversely affected. If a late night cannot be avoided, try to avoid more than one late night in a row.
Most of us simply sleep better in the dark.
Melatonin is the hormone that makes us sleepy and its production is actually blocked by light. So when travelling and sleeping in a new environment, you may need to find ways to make your child’s environment darker in order to induce sleepiness.
Block-out blinds are great at home and in some hotels. But what about make-shift sleep environments while travelling? Baby stores sell a great range of portable and adjustable window block-out products. But if you’re travelling light or on a budget, aluminium foil and some water is a great alternative. Simply flick some water droplets onto the windowpane and then press overlapping sheets of aluminium foil over the window, ensuring you go all the way to the edge. The water will make the foil stick to the glass. Aluminium foil is 100% opaque, and it is also reflective which will keep the room cooler against the summer’s heat.
5.) Sleep temperature
Room temperature and sleepwear for your child is a much discussed topic and can cause a lot of indecision. Temperatures in our homes and in hotel rooms can fluctuate during the night, dependant on factors such as air-conditioning, fans and the natural cool change. Our little ones need to be in just the right warmth to have the best possible sleep.
This is where Sleep Bags and Sleepsuits come into play. If you’re looking for a Sleep Bag or Sleepsuit for your baby or your toddler, you should definitely have a look at The Sleepy Company’s range. I have used these with my own children and in my opinion, they are among the best.
What I look for is comfort, quality and practicality. The 365 Sleep Bag allows you to use the lighter bag (0.5 Tog) for warmer nights above 22 degrees. If the baby’s room is air-conditioned or it’s a colder night, the quilted (2.5 Tog) one can be used. I also like that the sleeves can be unzipped to provide added flexibility. When the temperature drops overnight, you can simply add the 0.5 Tog bag (via special zip system) on top of the 2.5 Tog bag without having to unzip the 2.5 Tog bag your baby is already in, thereby not having to expose your baby to the cold.
The X-TEND Sleepsuit comes in a range of Tog ratings designed for different sleep temperatures, and also features a drop-seat zip for toilet trained children. Both the 365 Sleep Bag and X-TEND Sleepsuit can be extended to provide you with much longer term use. The fabric is 100% certified organic cotton and the zips are functional and easy to use.
Returning home from your holiday is often bittersweet. But for your baby, it usually signifies tremendous relief.
Bring back the pre-holiday consistency, and your child’s sleep routine will return before you know it.
By Shira Katz, Infant and Child Sleep Consultant