Thursday, February 6, 2014

Baby Sleeping in Hotel Room {Guest Post}

Hello, fellow Babywise moms!  My name is Allison and I am the mom of a 16-month-old girl named Charlotte.  On the advice of a friend (and the Internet), we read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and Babywise when I was pregnant and decided that they represented a great strategy for parenting.

I wanted to write a guest post to talk about traveling and sleep.  For us and our daughter, sleep is paramount; our number one goal when she was born was to prioritize sleep and teach good sleep habits.  And we have done that!  She is a phenomenal sleeper, but there are, of course, certain conditions she requires.  Those conditions are darkness and white noise.  She pretty much only sleeps two places: her nursery, and daycare.  Again, that is by design: we prioritize sleep and make sure that we are at home for nap time and that bedtimes and wake times are consistent every day.

As a result, we haven’t traveled much with her.  However, we like to travel.  Moreover, and this was the cause of our recent trip, we have family out of state whom we like to visit at Christmas.  Last year, my husband went to see family and I stayed home with baby.  (That was all part of our don’t-disrupt-the-sleep-schedule plan!)  This year, we all wanted to go, but I knew we would need to be creative in order to make sure our happy, energetic maintained her sleep schedule in order to maintain her happiness and energy!

So, this is a post about how a travel-with-a-baby-phobic Babywise Mom created great sleep conditions on the road!

Issue #1:  Sleeping in the Hotel Room

I poked around online trying to read up on toddler sleep in hotels, and most of what I read did not satisfy me.  A lot of bloggers approached it with the attitude of, “Toddler sleep while traveling is going to be really bad, just accept it.”  People suggested skipping naps, hoping for short stroller naps, or bringing baby to bed with you.  Nap skipping is not okay with me, and we have never been a bed-sharing family.  We knew that we needed to carefully consider how to create good sleep conditions in a hotel, so we hit the road armed with the following things:

1.       Room darkening curtains.  I took down the curtains from our daughter’s nursery and packed them!  (This gave me an opportunity to wash the regular curtains that hang with them, so that was good, too.)  FYI, our curtains are not actually curtains.  They are Roc-Lon room darkening fabric from the fabric store, cut to fit her windows.  It provides a MUCH darker room than regular curtains.
2.       Masking tape
3.       Clothespins
4.       Tacks
5.       Pack and Play
6.       Our usual white noise machine
7.       Sleep sack
8.       Charlotte’s usual blankets

Here is the bathroom hallway entrance 
with our room darkening curtain taped over it!
Yes, this was a lot to pack.  But again: sleep is our #1 priority!  We arrived at the hotel very late at night and of course Charlotte woke up on the trip from car to room.  She was pretty happy laying on the hotel bed in her PJs while we arranged the sleep area.

Here’s what we did: we used the “hallway to the bathroom” area that had the sink in it for her Pack and Play, hung a room darkening curtain over the entrance, and set up her white noise machine on the counter.  We used the masking tape to hang the room darkening curtain.  This was genius!  She was visibly relieved to be in her Pack and Play, in the dark, with the white noise running.  It was like she felt at home.  It did take her 10-15 minutes to go to sleep that night, which is totally understandable: she had been sleeping in a car, then dragged into a hotel and was awake for about 20 minutes, and was then told to sleep in a new place!

Here is our Pack and Play situated 
in the bathroom hallway. 
To the left is the sink, and through the 
door are the toilet and shower.  
You can see there is room to scoot by and 
use the restroom without disturbing our little sleeper!
Once she was asleep, we could sneak past her Pack and Play to use the restroom (the toilet and shower were in a separate room with a door – sweet!)  Because it was dark and her normal white noise was playing, she did not wake up confused once during the night.  We also thought she would be up at 6:00 AM since we had traveled one time zone back and her normal wake time is 7:00 AM.  Not so!  She slept until we woke her up at about 7:45.  She actually slept through both of us sneaking past her Pack and Play to use the restroom and shower, and my husband going out to the lobby to get our morning coffee and tea.  This is why we love white noise!

Our second night in the hotel, she went to bed at her usual time and woke up at her usual time.  It took her the normal 10-15 minutes of playing to fall asleep at night.  In short, it was perfect!  Also, because she was in the bathroom hallway with the curtain up and the white noise running, my husband and I felt like we could operate normally in the room.  After she went to sleep, we watched some Netflix shows on the iPad and read in bed, just like we would normally do at home.  It was nice not to have to tip toe around, or worse, have a toddler in bed with us!

Next week, Allison will talk about how they did napping at grandma's and napping in the car. 

What tips do you have for sharing a hotel room with a little one?

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7 comments:

Jayme... said...

We have the same issue... our kids won't fall asleep if they can see us. We have had several successful hotel trips. The most recent was with our three year old and 15 month old. I just bring several flat sheets and a can of thumb tacks. I tack the sheets up to the ceiling and walls and we are able to make several "rooms" in our room. This way the layout of the room doesn't matter.

wu_blog said...

We do something similar, bring a dark bed sheet, binder clips, tape, pushpins, Velcro straps. We make good use of hotel furniture : torch lamp, chair, pillows and make a canopy/tent.
as my kid got older, now 3, he didn't necessarily need it dark, we just didn't want him able to see us, so the bed sheet was more of a divider.
Still works great.

wu_blog said...

We do something similar, bring a dark bed sheet, binder clips, tape, pushpins, Velcro straps. We make good use of hotel furniture : torch lamp, chair, pillows and make a canopy/tent.
as my kid got older, now 3, he didn't necessarily need it dark, we just didn't want him able to see us, so the bed sheet was more of a divider.
Still works great.

Aymee said...

What type of white noise machine do you have? Ours is not too loud, so I am looking for a new one

Katie Ball said...

Wow, that's a lot of work but I'm glad it paid off! While sleep is a priority at our house, as well, we take a very different approach. We have let our daughter sleep in a variety of environments so that she is able to sleep just about wherever we go. Just this past Sunday, we were at a friend's for the Super Bowl. Maleah was getting very sleepy and we had brought her pack & play, so we set it up in their bedroom. I gave her some milk, snuggled with her, turned on the white noise app on my phone, and she went right to sleep. She has slept in the same room as us in hotels and when we go see family and we just lay a blanket over the pack and play to block her view of us - and we don't put her down until she is just about to fall asleep. It isn't always a 100% perfect strategy, but I think sometimes it works just as well to be flexible and watch a baby adapt!

Katherine Moody said...

As a military family, we travel a lot. There are obviously down sides for our seven month old's sleeping situation but we try to maintain a balanced approach while protecting her sleep. I agree that it can help babies be flexible and adaptable sleepers! Aymee, we got this white noise machine for our daughter and absolutely love it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000KUHFGM

Katherine Moody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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