Parents often avoid sleep training if they know they have an upcoming vacation or out of fear that all of their work will be undone if and when they ever take a trip. There is no need to forgo a vacation OR forgo sleep training because of an upcoming or potential trip.
Once your child has a great sleep foundation and is capable of putting themselves to sleep independently both initially at night and during any night wakings, they have officially become capable of self-soothing. This is a learned skill and once they master it, it’s there to stay. All of the work it took to get to that place will not be undone in the case of vacation or illness as long as you make sure to avoid some common pitfalls (i.e. deciding to reactively co-sleep on a trip) and get right back to your sleep plan once you return. If sleep takes a nosedive during a trip, it’s normal for things to take a few days to get back on track, just be consistent and all will return to normal.
Here are some of our tips for how to make sleeping on vacation a bit smoother…
- If your child misses a nap – make sure to shift bedtime or the next nap time a bit earlier so they don’t become too overtired
- Set the sleep environment – bring familiar sheets or blankets (depending on the age of your child), something to cover the windows with (travel black out curtains), bring a white noise machine and keep the room at a cool temperature
- Stick with your usual routine – conduct your usual pre-bedtime and nap routines and possibly even add a little time to it in order to give your child enough time to wind-down. Vacations can excite and exhaust children so we want to make sure they have ample time to relax before bed.
- Avoid creating new sleep crutches- it can be easy to be lax on vacation and bring the kids into bed with you, feed them if they wake up early (when they have already dropped all night feeds) etc. While it might seem like a quick fix and it’s just “once or twice,” once or twice and especially three times can create a habit, undoing the previously amazing work you have done to get your child’s sleep on track. Stay strong and structured on vacation and everyone will sleep better!