• Jessica Berk

7 Tips to Get Your Toddler to Sleep on Vacation

Y’all, I feel like I blinked and now it’s November! The holidays are literally around the corner.

It seems like everyone is stressing out about gifts and supply chain issues and shipping delays this season, and I’m not going to be able to help you with that. But what I CAN help you with is making sure your toddler's sleep on vacation doesn’t go to hell while you’re trying to celebrate and give thanks.

In addition to yummy food, chilly temps and giving gifts, the holidays can also include late nights, travel and house guests. Those late nights and different sleep situations can really do a number on your child’s sleep habits if you’re not careful.

There is one very accurate saying about being the parent of a toddler or preschooler. And if you’ve ever heard me speak, you’ve probably heard me say this:

“Give an inch and they’ll take a mile!”

So, my number ONE sleep tip for the holidays is do not start any bad sleep habits.

If you take away nothing else, remember this.

If you do start some bad habits, you could really be setting yourself up for a tough time when you get back home and life gets back to normal. Because even one night of co-sleeping or a different response from you overnight can reset your child’s expectations and quickly become their new normal. And if you end up doing it for a few days or all of Thanksgiving week, it strengthens that new sleep habit even more.

Developing bad sleep habits during the holidays can really make re-entry back into normal life suck. This is one of the main reasons my phone rings off the hook in January with parents desperate to get sleep on track.

So, let me give you 7 tips to save your toddler’s sleep while you travel:

1. Avoid Starting Bad Habits

Repeating this for emphasis! Don’t start any bad sleep habits on vacation! If your child sleeps independently at home, have him do the same while traveling. If you allow him a week of snuggling in bed with you, it can make getting him back in his own bed once you get home a real headache.

2. Get Some Sleep Before You Leave

Start now! Get your kiddo on a good, consistent sleep schedule - same bedtime, same wake time. YES, you really need to do this! The longer she has to get used to her everyday, good sleep schedule, the easier it will be for her to stay on that schedule when you’re traveling.

3. Talk To The Hubs

Get on the same page with your spouse before you leave. Where will your child sleep? How will you handle bedtime? What happens if he wakes up in the middle of the night? Will you bend any sleep rules? Arguing with your partner in the middle of the night... while you’re trying to get your kid back to sleep... and not wake up other house guests, isn’t fun. So, plan ahead!

4. Prioritize Sleep

Would you leave the house right before lunch without a plan for how to feed your kids? I hope not. Hangry kids are evil. Treat sleep the same way! If you know your toddler needs a nap each day, plan for it. Schedule activities around naptime or leave her sleeping at home with grandpa. If you know your toddler behaves better when she gets lots of sleep at night, put her to bed early. Plan for the sleep you know your kid needs. Everyone will thank you for it!

5. Match the Sleep Space

Try and make your child's sleep space as familiar as possible. Bring her favorite lovey, sound machine, nightlight, favorite bedtime books, etc. Run through her same bedtime routine just like you would at home. So, even though you're in a different place, sleep feels familiar.

6. Keep sleep separate even when room sharing

If your child has their own sleep space at home, try and simulate that even if you’re forced to share a room. If they can’t have their own room, try and give them their own sleep space. Some ideas: pull out couch, make a pallet on the floor with a sleeping bag and some pillows, inflatable toddler bed, kids play tent, kids travel cot. If your child is going to be sleeping like this, try a practice in their own room before you leave so it’s not totally new when you get there.

7. Get Back On Track Quickly

Sleep may not go perfectly. And that’s okay. Once you get home and normal life resumes, get your child back on track as quickly as possible. If the sleep routine changed while you were gone or you ended up dabbling in some bad habits that you don’t want to bring home with you, talk to him about it. “I know that you slept with Mommy & Daddy when we were at grandma’s house but that was only for our trip and now we’re home so you’re going to be sleeping in your own room again. That’s always how we sleep when we’re home.” If he is used to his consistent sleep schedule, re-establishing his good sleep habits shouldn’t take more than a night or two. (See, I told you tip #2 was important!)

Do you really want to spend your holidays calming a hysterical child or punishing on overtired toddler? No! So, use these tips to get your toddler to sleep on vacation. Remember, everyone is in a better mood when they get the sleep they need.

If you're reading this and realize that you really need to establish a baseline of good sleep habits, I can show you how to do it. I promise it won't be as difficult as you might think and it only takes a week or two. So, if you're ready to stop grasping at straws and finally get a game plan for sleep, reserve your spot in an upcoming free Toddler Sleep Masterclass. >>CLICK HERE<<

Happy Holidays!