Author Topic: Staying on track with LO's routine while traveling  (Read 5401 times)

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Offline jess, lukeys_mom

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Staying on track with LO's routine while traveling
« on: June 20, 2009, 09:22:48 am »
Staying on track with LOís routine while traveling

Be prepared
For a couple of weeks before you leave on your trip, take a good log of your child's routine and natural rhythm.  Record things such as when he sleeps for XX minutes, he can stay awake for XX before getting cranky, but if he only sleeps for XX he can only stay away for XX.

Know that you will need to be flexible, and sometimes do things differently than when you are at home. On your flights and at your destination, try to be careful about the awake times no matter how you get him to sleep. I canít stress enough how helping him to not get too OT and wired will be a big help to all of you.

If youíre used to sleeping and relaxing on a flight or car trip, please throw that idea out, and be prepared to do a lot of entertaining your LO instead. Try to catch up on your own rest before traveling.

Depending on the age of your child, talking to them about the trip can go a long way.  I have found that on long journeys such as car rides or flights, a special toy or two just for the trip often helps a lot in keeping LO occupied and also getting them excited for the trip.

FLYING
Before the flight
Check the airline to see if you can get a sky cot/bassinet. You will need to know his weight and length, as you will not want to find out that your LO is too big when youíre already on the plane. Most planes don't allow babies to use sky cots after 9 months. Boy did that change how excited I was for long haul flights!! 

As far as routine goes, one thing I might do differently is to avoid waking my LO after the morning nap on the day we are leaving.  (Assuming, of course, that you have to wake him from naps at home.)  Let him sleep as long as possible as he will probably be a little OT when between getting to the airport, checking in, getting on the plane etc.

On the flight
In my experience a GREAT time to get baby to fall asleep is right when the plane starts to go fast on the runway and into take-off. If you can somehow plan this into your routine that day so that lo is expecting a nap roughly around that time, this may help you get off to a good start. (And donít stress if it doesnít happen!)

On the plane, try to follow his normal routine just as you would at home. So if itís nap time, follow your naptime and/or bedtime wind down just as you would at home.  The only difference may be that you find yourself employing AP techniques as part of the cycle.

I have found on long haul flights that temporarily, for the purposes of preventing OT and keeping your lo calm, you have to employ AP techniques in favor of getting your little one as much rest as possible. After all, being on a plane for an extended period of time is completely different from the normal routine, so your methods of sleeping and calming may have to be different too. Donít worry about forming bad habits as itís only a plane ride, your LO should be able to tell the difference from what happens on the trip vs. what happens at home.

Have low expectations - do not expect that he will sleep through on the plane, particularly if you find yourself using unfamiliar AP techniques. (although with the sky cot he may, and if so consider yourself lucky!).  If he does sleep, great.  If he doesnít, though, it is okay for him to be on a 24-hr nap schedule for that day.  In other words, say he goes to sleep at his bedtime and sleeps for 1-2 hours.  If he wakes and seems calm & collected, let him be until he seems tired again. If he wakes cranky and crying however, you will want to work to comfort him provide assistance back to sleep (rocking, pat/shh, breast/bottle feeding, or some other form of soothing that works for you). 

For ideas on how to survive the awake times during a flight, you can read here:
Travel tips and activities for a baby/toddler - BY AIR
And more information here:
BW tips on Plane Travel
And one mom's experience here:
Travelling with a 7.5month old was better than I expected!

If your flight has a layoverÖ
Often when you bring along your stroller, you cannot get it back at your connecting flight if the connection is less than 4 hours, UNLESS you re-claim all your luggage at the connection and then re-check it in so you can re-check stroller at the gate. Due to security though, not many airlines will let you do this, so during that transit you will probably have to transport your LO without the stroller.

This is when a baby sling/carrier (Bjorn, etc.) will come in handy.  Then he will be able to sleep in there as you're moving around in transit.  Check this first for metal though to (hopefully) avoid taking it off at the security check. In the US you have to take the baby off anyway but in many countries they will let you through.

CAR TRIPS
Before a road trip
Since car trips differ from flights in that you are in charge of the times, stops, etc Ė plan your trip with your LOís temperament, age, and tolerance of the car in mind. For example, my ds1 does not naturally fall asleep the minute the car starts. He will sleep easily in the car, but only during his normal sleep times. Therefore he requires either a lot of stops, or a lot of activity. Many babies are more flexible and may effectively sleep for very long stretches once the car is moving.

I would think about the length of time you need to get to your destination and then multiply by 1.5 to 2, depending on your LO.

During a road trip
If you are traveling at night/evening, often you can do LOs bedtime during the car trip and, for many LOs who sleep easily in the car, expect that they will sleep for much of the trip. Dress them in (or bring) their pjís and make sure they have all their sleep stuff to get snuggly in the car, and start out the trip with songs, light activities, etc to get them relaxed and comfy in the car.  However, very long stretches in a car seat is not recommended so try if possible to stop for the night if you have a very long trip. Or alternatively maybe start during the day.

If possible, try to roughly stick to your LOís routine on a road trip, especially if you will be driving during the day. Plan to stop frequently. This is helpful not only for older kids and toddlers but also for babies. 

We did a long road trip when Luke was 6 months old. I found that putting him in the car seat right at his nap time was always a bad idea, as he wouldn't be able to settle and would instead scream. Therefore, we would put him in his car seat about 1/2 hour before his normal naptime. Often DH would drive and I would sit in the back with Luke, playing with him a little, and then he would drift off to sleep. Sometimes it would be about 30 minutes after his nap time, sometimes right away Ė either way was fine, as long as he was in the car seat and we were moving before he could get OT.

During daytime road trips, we usually keep it to 2-2.5 hours car time max (depending on when he woke up), and then stop for his feed and to play a bit.  Either way though, itís important to stock up on activities, snacks, and supplies to prepare for your trip.

For further ideas on how to survive road trips, you can read here:
Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!


Post-traveling, on holiday:
At your destination you will probably have to play it by ear and follow your LOís cues as to how the routine will go.  In unfamiliar surroundings many babies simply don't sleep as well as they do at home, so it could be a very long night Ė especially if you have gone through time zones.  Alternatively, he could just be exhausted and crash for the night. 

A lot depends on the time difference too. I have found that with Luke it often works very well when we travel east to west as he will just sleep hard and heavy when we arrive.  Traveling in the reverse direction has been quite difficult for us. (If that's the case for you too then come find me on Getting Back on Track when you get home!)

While on holiday many people resort to a lot of AP as it is so different to home. I will not say donít do this at all, because a holiday is still quite different from home. But I will say that some things are worse than others. For example, in our experience, having Luke take some stroller naps on holiday or wearing him around for naps has been no big deal. Once he hit a year old, we could build in one extra nap at the end of the day so he could have a bit of a later bedtime.  Sometimes weíve had to stay in his room to get him to sleep, which we pretty much never do at home. There has been little to no consequence when we return home.

Another difference is that the family usually shares a room on holiday. When he was young this was no big deal, but as a toddler it has often led to NWís when we get home, with him wanting to hold our hands or just have us in his room.  Co-sleeping on holiday when you never do this at home seems to be one technique that gives many people problems when they get home and is very difficult to wean. Same with rocking for night sleep. If you can avoid these, I would.

As far as routine goes, try to stick as close to homeís routine as possible, but be flexible. I think avoiding OT is the most important. Also, gauge this on your time difference and the length of your stay. For example, if you are going somewhere that is 2 hours later than home, you may just want to try and stay on home time the whole trip. But if youíre staying for 3 weeks, youíll likely need to get on local time. A larger time difference, say 5 or 6 hours, probably needs to be adapted no matter what the length of stay.

Try to bring as many things from home as possible, and make bedtimes familiar. You will also need to be flexible and still read LOís cues. He or she will probably know they are on holiday too, or at least that itís different from home, and may also be flexible Ė but give him or her some time if not. Often it just takes a little getting used to.

For more tips & advice on traveling to different time zones & adjusting to jet lag, visit here:
International Plane Travel

When you return home:
Something to remember: International travel and jet lag can often kick-start new development phases! So if you have a certain routine before leaving, donít expect it is going to go back to the exact same thing when you return home. Your BW detective will need to come back out, and you will need to follow your LOís new cues to determine the routine they will settle into.


Some more travel tips here: Going on holiday, what about routine? TIPS FOR THE TRAVELING MOMMIES
« Last Edit: April 07, 2015, 04:17:14 am by Erin M »
Mom to Luke (2007) and Dylan (2009)