Do your research – call your holiday accommodation well ahead of time to work out what baby equipment they have available because this will no doubt save you precious packing space. They may provide a portacot for free and will oftedn have highchairs and strollers available for hire. If they don’t have these things they’ll probably be able to point you in the direction of a local baby equipment hire business. I was lucky enough to have a holiday on a boat in the Whitsundays when my eldest child was 3 and my second was 5 months. I found a company on the mainland that hired out a huge range of stuff for kids (including a crate of age and gender appropriate toys....was great for my Mr 3!) and they arranged to send it all over on a ferry to Hamilton Island where it waited at the airport for me to pick up when we landed. Just knowing that all of this was organised weeks in advance made the lead up to the holiday much less stressful!
If you’re taking a portacot with you it can be a good idea to have your child sleep in it (in their bedroom) for a few days before you leave. If the environment and bed are both new at your destination it will be harder for them to adjust.
If you are flying and have bought a seat for your little one it can be really helpful to carry their regular five-point harness tie-down car seat on with you. A lot of airlines (not all, so check beforehand) will let you fasten the cabin seatbelt through where you would normally thread the car seatbelt, after which you can pop you child in her seat and it’s all very familiar for her. If it’s a long flight and she’s probably going to have better, deeper sleeps if she’s in her own car seat too and the bonus is that if she’s not on your lap you can actually fold your tray table down to eat! Oh the luxuries!
If you are travelling to foreign lands make sure you visit your GP to check if any extra vaccinations are required (for both you and bubs). Babies put everything in their mouths so are at risk of picking up an unwelcome lurgy. Needless to say there are some pretty nasty diseases little ones can contract overseas and you wouldn’t want to find out afterwards that it could have been avoided with a vaccination.
Of all our senses, smell is our most primal – babies can smell way before they leave the womb, in fact studies show that they can recognise their own mother’s amniotic fluid two days after they’re born! Playing on this strong sense of smell, I would advise any mum to have a designated smell for their baby’s bed – that way you can take the smell with you wherever you are and the environment smells like home. This is immensely comforting for babies and toddlers and can well be the key to a successful transition to a temporary new bed. My absolute favourite product for this purpose is L’Occitane Pillow Mist (a mix of lavender, tea tree and geranium). I swear, if someone sprays that on my pillow in the nursing home I will be immediately transported back to my first born as a baby. On a related note, did you know that smells are a very powerful memory trigger? Just try sniffing the perfume you used to marinade yourself in as a teenager – I guarantee you’ll reach for a crimper.
Try to stick to her regular routine as much as possible. This can be difficult on holidays as it inevitably involves day trips and eating out (not so conveniently almost always at times that babies are sleeping!). If you’ve instilled a predictable and stable bedtime routine at home keep it up when you’re away. Part of the research you’ve done would probably have been to find out if your room has a bath – it’s little things like being able to maintain a soothing routine that can make all the difference to your baby’s sleep while you’re away. Be sure to pack her favourite bedtime stories as another little familiar comfort. If you are driving to a day trip destination, try to time it with her regular nap time then she’ll catch a sleep in the car and been refreshed for your outing.
You’ll want to try to re-create her home environment as much as possible – if she has a few special snuggle items in her cot at home you should definitely take them with you. Another thing that usually isn’t too bulky to take along with you is her source of white noise (if used) – if you use a CD though it could be tricky. Perhaps you could download a white noise app that you could play through your device instead. You probably have good blinds or curtains in her room at home and your holiday destination is not necessarily going to have them. There are travel black out blinds available in shops and online but some black plastic sheeting from a hardware store and Blu Tack will work just as well!
The most important advice I can give you though is to not avoid holidays because you have kids. Sure, a romantic weekend retreat to the Hunter Valley isn’t quite the same as it used to be but with a bit of thought given to appropriate destinations and accommodation holidays with babies can be a great bonding experience.
NB: I know the image for this blog post isn't showing a baby. I could have used a nice image of a random baby in a suitcase or something but instead I used an old picture of my first baby from when we flew to Japan when he was 3. Awwwww, my little boy so tiny and cute!
If you would like personalised help with any sleep issue for a child, newborn to 5 years, contact Katie Forsythe at The Baby Sleep Co today on 0457 473 725 or click here to send us an email.