Modern families are busy (yep, that's an understatement!). You're juggling a boatload of obligations, including work, children, extended family, home and more, so when it's time for a summer getaway, you're ready for that much-deserved family R&R. Family time is important, especially family vacation time, so ensure that time is well spent with these tips for happy travels with little ones.
Summer Travel Tips
If you're traveling by airplane, choose the flight time based on your child's nap or sleep schedule. Arrive at the airport early. Walk around the airport holding your infant or letting your toddler walk beside you. Keep your child active up until boarding time.
Bring plenty of activities to entertain your child until he or she is ready to sleep. Toddlers learn by touching so pack toys and coloring books, for example, to keep their little hands busy. You'll need to keep them active, both mentally and physically (a movie won't cut it!).
Be prepared to help your child adjust to the changes in air pressure, especially during takeoff and landing. If the pressure isn't released, it can be quite painful and possibly even burst a tiny eardrum. Bring along an age appropriate item for your child to suck on. This could be a bottle, pacifier, sippy cup or even a lollipop.
When they appear sleepy, if the flight permits, take a stroll down the aisle. Little ones need some form of movement, and it's good for mom and dad to get up and stretch, too.
Travel Sleep Tips
When you arrive at your destination, adapt your and your child's sleep schedule to the new time. Don't try to ease into it before you leave home, and don't try to stick to your "at home" schedule. Our body clocks are set by the sun and moon, so don't play with biology.
Try to recreate the home sleep environment as much as possible. Younger children need more consistency in their schedules, while older children can handle change a bit more easily. If you're bed sharing at home, there will be less of a transition as the two main people baby is used to sleeping with are right there.
If your baby or toddler sleeps in his or her own crib or bed, bring the sheet they used the night before. Make sure the sheet fits in a pack and play. Thick mattress covers that make the pack and play cozier are available, so pick one up if you can.
Babies under one year of age should not have loveys, like stuffed animals, in their cribs, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your baby is over one year old, bring their lovey on your trip. It's a good idea to bring two or more of the exact same object. If you forget one in a hotel or lose it, you can quickly provide a substitute to soothe your child.
Bring a white noise machine - these are great for babies, children of all ages and adults, too. In a hotel or other noisier than home environment, they mask unfamiliar voices, creaky floors and more. Keep in mind that you don't need to bring a "machine" - white noise apps are available for download. When you use the app, put your phone on do not disturb or airplane mode, and keep it plugged in overnight. That way, your phone won't lose charge and the app won't turn off and trigger waking.
Another great tip is to travel with blackout shades if your child is sensitive to light.
Remember, whether it's in the car, at grandma's, in a hotel or on a plane, we can't force children to sleep. Timing is everything, so schedule travel based on your child's sleep schedule. Be prepared to keep your child engaged when awake, and when you arrive at your destination recreate their home sleep environment. Get the rest you need at night and enjoy your family time!