Seeking a night of Zzz’s? We asked Mahaley Patel, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant for her tips on how to get through the night.
Hi! I’m Mahaley Patel, and if you are here because your child is not sleeping well, I am so glad you found me. A little over two years ago, I had my daughter. By the time my daughter was two, we had taken 21 flights with her. Yes, you heard that right. I get asked all the time by friends and clients for travel tips, so here they are!
1. When possible, give your child their own sleeping space.
We will often opt for a less expensive hotel or an Airbnb so that we can get a suite or a two-bedroom apartment when we travel. Another great thing about Airbnb’s is that you can have your own kitchen, which makes life with babies and toddlers so much easier, and it’s a great way to save on eating out.
2. Make the sleep environment as familiar as possible.
Whatever your child typically sleeps with, bring it. Make the room as dark and quiet as possible and bring your white noise machine. This is also when having a bedtime routine comes in handy because it’s a great way to cue your child that it’s time to sleep even though they are not in their typical environment.
3. Time change.
If you are traveling for just a few days, you may find it easier to keep your child on their regular schedule and time zone. You can do this by making the room as dark as possible to prevent sunlight from creeping in. They make travel blackout curtains, but foil and tape work great too. Just ask my parents and in-laws about all the times we have foiled their windows! If your trip is longer than a week, avoiding the time change will be much harder to do. Your child will start to adjust to the new time due to the sunlight. Let them adjust as best as you can and try and go with the flow. When you return home, try to wake them up at their normal time or put them to bed at their normal time. Avoid letting them take extra-long naps when they get home so that they can go to bed at their usual time. They may be overtired for a few days, but they will get back on track. The more time you can spend outside in the sun, the quicker they will adjust. On average, it takes about one to two days per hour to adjust to the new time zone.
4. Avoid bad habits.
If you’ve recently stopped feeding at night, avoid the temptation to feed if your child wakes up while traveling. If sleep gets off track go back to your original routine as soon as you get home. Avoid bringing new habits home with you!
5. Do your best and relax.
Sleep may not be as great as it is at home, but that’s okay. Your child will get back on track, and all is not lost. If you need to do stroller naps while you’re out and about, that’s ok. Do the best you can and remember if it’s a bad nap day you can always compensate with an earlier bedtime. Most of all, enjoy your trip and make great memories!
About the author
I’m Mahaley Patel. I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and I currently reside in Los Angeles, California. I became certified as a Pediatric Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. I am currently a Marriage & Family Therapist, Trainee, specializing in working with new moms. My best role is as a mother to my three-year-old daughter, Amelie, my thirteen-year-old Boxer, Coco, and as a wife to my husband, Ravi Patel. You can learn more about me and my services on my site, Mahaley Patel.