Baby sleep hacks for summertime
Whether you’re staying with family, camping or heading overseas, baby whisperer Dorothy Waide’s sleep tips will help your family survive and thrive while on holiday!
Summer is just around the corner and it’s about now that my clients often ask me for advice on how best to deal with sleep while on holiday. The most common question is ‘Will going away ruin the routine that we have just established?’ The answer is ‘No it shouldn’t, but yes it can’, so sometimes we just need to step out of our comfort zones and go for it. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your routine, and still enjoy your holidays.
Take some time to plan your journey – perhaps do a couple of short trips before the big one, to see how it goes. My suggestion is to travel during your baby’s nap times, and, if you can, to leave early in the morning when it’s cooler. If you’re going on a long car journey, make sure you take breaks every two or so hours to give your baby’s spine a chance to stretch out – it’s not good for babies to be in the capsule or carseat for long periods. Cars can also get very hot so it’s a good idea to put a UV screen on the side windows, and remember not to overdress your baby. Travelling at night could make it easier on older children who get bored sitting in a car for long periods.
RECREATING A HOME AWAY FROM HOME
✔ If you’re staying in a bach or someone’s house, it’s worth investing in static blackout blinds – they’re just the thing to ensure your baby’s room is dark for daylight sleeping. They can also reduce early morning waking and help toddlers and preschoolers fall asleep quicker in the evenings. Find them on my website, babyhelp.co.nz. Static blinds cling to windows with static and are easy to put up. They block out sunlight efficiently, can be taken down during the day and can be reused many times. If the static loses its ‘cling’, just take the blind down and wipe it with a microfibre cloth.
✔ If you arrive at your destination and find that your toddler (aged over 12 months) has a bed instead of a cot and there is no side rail, all is not lost. Either put the mattress onto the floor or put pillows between the base and mattress, and then place a spare mattress or pillow on the floor just in case your toddler falls out.
✔ Remember to pack recommended anti-mosquito products for both your family and your bedrooms. I tend to use the plug-in mosquito repellents, turning them on in the late afternoon, and unplugging them before going to bed.
✔ Fans are useful for hot nights, and double as white noise too! If it’s extremely hot, try placing a bucket of ice in front of the fan as this will help cool the room.
✔ If your child needs sleep props (ie a dummy, cuddly or white noise), remember to take them with you as this will help make your holiday more enjoyable.
✔ For night-time sleeps (without air conditioning) I suggest a 0.5 tog-rated sleeping bag and a long-sleeved cotton onesie, which will help absorb moisture and keep your little one’s arms warm when the temperature drops.
✔ For hotels with air conditioning, you may find that a 1.0 tog-rated sleeping bag with a long-sleeved cotton bodysuit will be fine, but it does depend on what the room temperature is.
✔ If you’re sailing on a boat and want to keep your baby or toddler secure overnight, I suggest you use a Safe-T-Sleep. These are a fantastic option for safe sleeping, not just on boats but also for overnight stays at other people’s homes, hotels or baches. Just ensure you have the one that fits a bed.
If you’re heading overseas for a summer holiday, my best advice is to try for daytime flights so your baby’s night routine is not disrupted. Even if I get seats with a bassinet, I still opt to let babies have their in-flight naps in my arms, and just use the bassinet for play time. Here’s why: imagine your baby has just gone to sleep in the bassinet when suddenly the plane hits turbulence (Murphy’s law!). Now you need to pick up your baby, which of course wakes them, and voilà – you have a stressful time on your hands!
▪️ If you’re going to do a lot of flying, I suggest buying the Baby B’Air Flight Vest as it feels more secure than the belts offered by airlines.
▪️ Remember, it takes a day to adjust for every hour of time zone difference, so if it’s a short holiday, sometimes it’s better just to wing it. However, if you’re there for a long period of time, it is better to jump straight into the new time zone once you’ve arrived and after the first night’s sleep. The first few nights tend to be the hardest, and I often suggest safe bedsharing to help get you through, and then you can work at getting your little one back into their cot or bed.
A travel cot makes life easier – check out the different styles to find one that suits your needs. The attributes I look for in a travel cot are its weight, how easy it is to put up and take down, and whether it is big enough for your little one to move around in.
I always take along an additional thin mattress that fits the cot to ensure maximum comfort for Baby. When your travel cot will be on an uncarpeted floor, ensure it doesn’t make a noise as your baby moves in their sleep. It’s harder to do cupping and shushing with your baby in a travel cot, so you may find it easier to do this on a bed or in your arms and then transfer them back to the travel cot.
If you’re going camping, I suggest using a travel cot blackout tent. Do check that you have no flying insects inside the cot before you put your little one down for the night.
FLEXI-TINES ( AKA FLEXIBLE ROUTINES!)
Whatever routine you’re following, remember to allow for some flexibility – you cannot spend all day indoors due to your baby needing to have a nap. My recommendation is to have the first nap of the day as a walking nap; the second nap at home, as this is normally around the hottest time of the day; and the third nap either out and about or again at home. This could the ideal time for everyone to curl up for a late afternoon nap, before the evening routine kicks in.
NAPS ON THE GO!
For the moving naps that are in the buggy or front pack, my suggestion is to try keeping the wheels, or your body, still before setting off for your walk. This allows your baby the chance to fall asleep without movement, but of course, if they’re having trouble falling asleep then go ahead and get those wheels and feet moving!
For buggy naps I always suggest using the SnoozeShade as it blocks approximately 99% of UVA and UVB rays. It’s also made of breathable fabric, which is important for the summer months. The inside of a buggy gets very hot, so I always recommend you don’t overdress your baby. Always make sure you’re able to check in and see if your baby is okay when you’re out walking.
If your baby is in a capsule and you want to block out light and harmful rays but still have some air movement, again, use the SnoozeShade. And remember, whenever covering your baby with a breathable material, do check in regularly to ensure they are safe and sound.
For front packs or slings, you need to ensure that your baby doesn’t overheat, and again, ensure you can see your little one and check on them while you’re out walking. A lot of the front packs come with a head shade which protects your baby from the sun and helps to cut out a lot of light. You can buy separate head shades if your front pack doesn’t have one. If it’s really hot, try placing a muslin cloth between you and your baby to help absorb moisture. Ensure that your carrier is suitable for hot weather, and if you’re thinking of carrying your baby while you’re in the water, make sure you choose one that’s designed to get wet! If you prefer to use a baby sling, choose one made from breathable material and again, don’t overdress your baby.
HOME SWEET HOME AGAIN…
You may breathe a sigh of relief to be home again, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed the adventure that is holidaying with kids! When you return home, it’s important to get back into your old routine (if you haven’t been in it while away). Remember, the first three to four days may be tough, but you will get there – just take your time, lower your expectations and relax!
|Dorothy started her career training as a Karitane Mothercraft nurse in New Zealand in the 1970s and is one of NZ’s leading sleep experts for babies and toddlers. Dorothy is the author of You Simply Can’t Spoil a Newborn, which is also available on Kindle and as an audio book. Her next book, Simply Parenting – from 12 weeks to 3 years, will be available in 2020. Find her at facebook.com/BabyWithin and babyhelp.co.nz.|
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 48 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW