Helping your baby sleep while on vacation
So you’re cramped in a hotel room or your host’s spare room. Where is the little one going to sleep? Find out ahead of time if wherever you’re staying has a suitable crib you can use. Make sure it complies to the latest safety standards (grandma’s old crib with the wide slats and ill-fitting mattress should not be acceptable to you).
If a suitable alternative isn’t readily available, it might be best to bring a portable crib with you if you. These are relatively compact, foldable units, but they still take up a lot of cargo space and need to be carted around (not always easy to fit in a taxi trunk, depending on what other gear you are bringing). On the plus side, they make a clean, safe, contained, comfortable place for baby to lie, nap, play and sleep for the night. Many parents wouldn’t dream of traveling without one.
A stroller makes an acceptable makeshift infant bed if you’re caught without a crib. If you’re in a pinch, a blanket-lined drawer or laundry basket will do the trick. You can even try a small inflatable wading pool to nest your little one in.
You can always co-sleep – just take all the necessary safety precautions you would at home (firm mattress, snug fitting sheets, no excess pillows, no gaps between mattress and headboard/footboard, place baby on back etc.).
If you’re staying in a hotel/motel room, be forewarned – you might feel a bit trapped by the baby’s sleeping pattern. Once it’s lights-out for junior, you may find yourself stuck in a dark room, a hallway or the bathroom until you’re ready to sleep yourself. Bring a book or you’ll find yourself devouring the hotel guide cover to cover. If you’re with a partner, you can take turns going out for a walk, a swim or down to the lobby. Once your baby is in a deep sleep, you may be able to get away with turning on a soft light or the television on low volume. Risk it if you dare.
Young babies are usually happy to snooze just about anywhere, but the disruption in their usual rhythm and routine might make for some sleep challenges. Brace yourself for some extra fussiness and wakefulness plus a blatant disregard for any “schedule” you may have established back home. Expect the worst and hope for the best.