Monday, June 23, 2014

How To Travel Without "Un-doing" Babywise

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Traveling with a baby is stressful. I would dare say that traveling with a baby who is on an awesome routine you love is even more stressful. Why? Because you are terrified that your short little vacation will un-do all of your hard work. Even if your baby is not on the perfect schedule, you can be terrified of the repercussions of travel. I can empathize! And perhaps ironically, I felt that more with Brinley as a baby than any other child. I think at that point I knew a few things:
  1. Travelling can disrupt a baby and set back progress.
  2. Her schedule was perfect with our family's day-to-day life, and day-to-day life happened
  3. It would be much harder for me to do what my family needed me to do if she was thrown off.
So yes, I get the fear. 

Beyond the fear, there is this. Yes, some babies get thrown off by travel. Some get thrown "on" by travel. Brayden actually started sleeping through the night for the first time while on vacation, which led me to think through more intently on why he would be waking in the night at home because it made no sense for him to sleep through the night on vacation. It helped me figure it out. 

Also, if a baby does get thrown off, it won't take you long to get back on track. It will come back. Here are some tips to help you have the best shot at traveling without un-doing Babywise. 

Learn How to Flexible-ize Your Child
To flexible-ize, you do things to help your child be flexible. See "Flexible-izing" a Baby for more. 

Relax and Remember It Will Be Okay
Just take a deep breath. This is part of life. It will all be okay. If your baby does get thrown off, you can get baby on quickly. I would say you will be back on track again within two weeks at most. Despite the fear that I know is there, know that even if your child does get off, your child will get back on. 

But let me also say this. We said "yes" to everything when Brayden was a baby. By the time Brinley came around, I had learned to say no sometimes. We didn't go to everything that was going on if it was going to be way too disruptive. Not everyone liked it. Not everyone accepted it. But I put my baby first. 

Be Consistent Before You Leave and When You Get Back
Consistency is so powerful in helping your child be flexible. Commit to being consistent for a week before you leave. Be home for naps and have your child in bed on time. This is important no matter what your child's age is. A child who is not in a sleep deficit at the beginning of the trip will have a larger "margin of error" for the vacation. By this I mean that your child will be more flexible and better able to handle the disruptions that will come. 

When you get home, plan on being home and consistent for two days at the very least. Plan that in. Ideally, you would do it even seven days, but plan on two for sure. Also plan on naps perhaps needing to be longer and start earlier than usual. Some children will respond to being overly tired by not sleeping as well and taking shorter, more fitful naps. Maintain your consistency and your child will get back on track.

Do Prep Before Hand
In the weeks before you travel, pay attention to what you use daily and what you might need to bring with you. You don't want to pack everything, but you want the essentials. Another helpful thing to possibly do is shift the schedule if you will be in another time zone. See 

Shifting Your Schedule {Time Change, Time Zones, etc.} for more.

Try to Maintain Sleep While Away
There is a lot you can do to maintain sleep while you are away. Bring anything you can that your baby likes to sleep with. Remember the lovie. Remember the special blanket if there is one. Remember the pillow if we are talking toddler. Remember the PJs and the sound machine. You might bring along your own pack and play. Do what you can to make the sleep environment familiar.

If your baby will sleep on the go, even if it is a shorter-than-usual nap, have your baby sleep at nap time. If your baby won't sleep on the go, try to be settled somewhere for your child to nap, again, even if it is a shorter nap than usual. A well-rested baby will be a more pleasant baby. So as much as possible, try to keep most naps and bedtimes the same. You can definitely take some liberties and skip some naps, but don't push your child further than he is able to go.

If you need to have some nap skipped, be mindful of how you do it. If you skip one nap, don't skip the nap before or after it. If you will have really disrupted naps one day, try to have more normal nap schedule another. Try to balance your nap disruptions as much as possible. 

When McKenna was a toddler, we were camping in a National Park. During the week, she missed a few naps and was definitely not sleeping as well as she did at home. She wasn't one to typically sleep on the go, but by the end of the trip, she was falling asleep in the hiking backpack and would nap while we hiked around. It is obviously not the ideal sleep location and she wasn't getting the quality nor the quantity of sleep she was accustomed to, but it worked for our trip. 

See this guest post for more ideas: 

Tips for Traveling with Baby/Toddler: Naps on the Go {Guest Post} and Baby Sleeping in Hotel Room {Guest Post}

Try to Maintain Eating Times While Away
I keep meals at about the same times while traveling. I find my kids are used to eating at the same times each day and they get grumpy fast if a meal is late. I make sure I have anything I might need to feed the child with me wherever we are. 

For more on travel, see:


Kayla Reid said...

Hello! Thank you for this blog Valerie, I am so thankful for it! I have a few questions for you. My little girl is 16 weeks old this wednesday and is sleeping through the night and her naps have been flawless for the last three weeks or so. Today we flew up to Alaska from Spokane and we will we staying here for a month. How would you suggest I handle her nights or if she wakes early in the mornings? She hasn't had a night feed in almost two months and I am afraid if I do start to give it to her, she will come to expect it. We aren't on vacation here in Alaska so I am not afraid of her getting off schedule, its just since she's in a new place I am not sure how she will sleep at night and I am not sure how to handle it. We are staying with my parents so I am a little reluctant to let her cry it out. Please help! Thank you!

cherelli said...

Hi Kayla, we have just finished six months of travel overseas, most of it staying with friends and family and I totally get where you are coming from! We followed all the steps above in the post (crib "friends" or blankets, routine asap) but we always allowed some leeway the first two nights at a new place. We would go in when she cried but not get her out of the crib, we would sing gently or shush her back to sleep (all the way if necessary) if things really did get bad (eg screaming like a banshee) we would eventually take her out and lie her sideways in our arms and pat her to sleep....Noooo! You say, you will think you are ruining her...BUT on the third night we would warn our hosts to wear earplugs as we would let our daughter cry a lot longer. We would gauge the cry, sometimes she would cry for ten minutes and go right back to sleep, sometimes she would grizzle on and off for an hour, but only when she seriously amped up would we go in, and we would not pick her up. Normally by the fourth night we were back in a routine and getting good sleep...if it is only a short trip you may just have to roll with the early wakeups and get out walking until the rest if the household was up....we are now back home and all those sleep disruptions have not caused any damage, just keep the basis of a routine and you can pick right back up where you left off...

Kayla Reid said...

Thank you for your insight Cherelli! Foruntately we have her bassinet she's sleeps in, her lovie, white noise machine and of course her bedtime routine. So she has everything from home to make it as familiar as possible. I warned my family to wear earplugs the first couple of nights since I plan on letting her CIO for a little bit. (not sure how long yet) Im not concerned about her naps, as no one else is sleeping during the day, just her night sleep and being around other people. She did great, a little fussiness towards the end of the day but fell asleep within 5 minutes of going down for the night. I guess since I have never traveled with her before I just don't know what to expect and been praying she adjusts well! Thank you for your advice and letting me know what you did, it helps so much!

Valerie Plowman said...

Hi Kayla--I saw your questions on a different post and have addressed those there. :)


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