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Traveling with baby has it's own challenges. Between planning for naps, feedings, diaper changes, playtime, and quiet time, one wonders how there is any time left in the day. However, though it is always a good idea to take baby's routines into consideration, there's no reason why you can't let baby nap and spend some time enjoying your vacation as well. Here are six ways to do just that.
If you're traveling for the first time with an infant or going to an unfamiliar location, you might be worried about whether your little one will sleep well during the trip. One mother put it aptly when she said, “Babies will tend to get the sleep the need on way or another. The same can't be said for parents.” However, there are some things you can do to ensure your little one will get her much need rest – so you can get yours, too.
One good thing about sleeping on the move with your little one is that sleep and movement go together at this age. Many parents find infants and toddlers will be lulled to sleep in the car, or will fall asleep in Mom or Dad's arms during a walk, if it's anywhere near their naptimes. If you're wondering just how your infant or toddler should be sleeping while you're headed to your vacation destination, here's what you can expect.
On the plane: If you're on a red eye flight going across the coast or going on a transatlantic journey, you'll likely need to figure out sleeping accommodations. Since fares for children under 2 are reduced, do consider getting your infant her own seat. If you have a young infant, consider reserving your seats in the bulkhead section. Check with your airline first, but most supply a bassinet for you that attaches to the wall. Also check the height and size restrictions, as some bassinets sizes vary. During an especially turbulent flight, you'll likely want to strap your infant into her own child seat.
Toddlers should have their own child seat as well. If a flight is empty, you might be able to snag an extra seat in your row so your toddler can spread out during sleep time. As with any flight, if you encounter turbulence, have your toddler in her own seat.
In the car: If your car is moving, you infant or toddler should be strapped in her car seat at all times. If you plan on being on the road while your little one needs rest, she should always be sleeping in her car seat. Never give in to the temptation to hold your baby while she's sleeping in the car.
Sleep time for infants can be a prime time for parents during traveling. Catch up on your own much needed rest, pick up a book, or switch off with your spouse or another adult so one person can watch the baby while the other heads out. If you're planning your trip and wondering just what you should bring with you, find out what you really need and don't need to bring on a trip.
Many hotels do carry Pack N Plays or similar portable cribs. If you don't want to lug your own, call the hotel ahead of time and see if they can supply you with what you need. One cautionary note to this, is that you need to make sure the equipment is safe and in good condition. In 2000, the Consumer Product Safety (CPSC) Commission found 80% of the hotels reviewed had unsafe cribs. However, since that time, a program has been in place to promote a safety initiative to ensure that cribs are safe. The CPSC recommends parents find out whether a hotel has guidelines to make sure their hotel cribs are safe.
If your toddler has graduated to the big bed and you have room in the car, try adding a bedrail to make sleep time safer. First Years carries a single bed rail with a mesh screen. It's relatively easy to secure to the underside of a mattress.
Helpful Hint: Don't forget, if you don't want to bring bulky infant gear with you, there are baby equipment rental facilities that can accommodate your needs for portable cribs, bed rails, and other items.
If you're taking your infant with you across multiple time zones, you may need to help her adjust to a new schedule. Babies are adaptable, but like adults, need some time to adjust to new surroundings and changes. The best way to handle time zone changes is to start preparing for your adjustment before you arrive at your destination.
Whether it's a trip to Grandma's house or you're going on the road, the Pack N Play makes life easier both for playtime and bedtime. The Pack N Play made by Graco can be as basic as a bassinet and pen or as supped up as one with a changing table, canopy, and decorative skirt. Place a young infant in the bassinet attachment for sleep time or an older baby in the full size bassinet. You can also entertain babies with a number of nature songs or lullabies from the music box. Some Pack N Plays come with a mobile to keep baby's interest as well.