Part two: International travel – a sleep consultants persepctive: never travel without….
I didn’t have any other “book me a flight home – now” moments on the trip. Beau really quickly learnt that sometimes it was okay to be awake for 5 hours and that mum would make sure he got the sleep he needed as soon as possible, wherever possible. Wardrobes, bathrooms, buggys, seats on ferries, and carseats got turned into awesome little sleeping huts. My husband loved to use our dark sheet and his duct tape to make a mini blackout room wherever we were.
Do not travel without items one and two:
• Blackout sheet – mine is navy blue queen size from Spotlight. Super cheap and the best thing for darkening a sleep space wherever you are.
• Duct tape – not so much sleep related but turned out to be really handy throughout the trip for fixing power adapters, suitcases and taping up the odd hotel curtain.
When it came to new time zones, I was in constant dread of having another meltdown like our first day. It’s fair to say I can be precious about Beau’s sleep and I make it a priority, so I was racked with guilt after those first few days and did not want a repeat. I went with the philosophy of changing as soon as we arrived.
So, if we thought it was 2 in the morning but the clock in the new time zone said it was 7am then we were getting up and getting some sunshine and breakfast. Food, light and play are great ways to set your body clock and, tired or not, we started our day and tried to follow a normal routine. It’s amazing how you can put your own jet lag behind you to help your baby.
I always tried for Beau to have one good sleep a day at our accommodation in his cot, but some days this wasn’t achievable. This is where a good lie down buggy comes in.
Do not travel without item three:
• Buggy that can lie down with a sun shade cover – I love my Mountain Buggy in navy blue for a good dark sleep in the streets.
Combined with the blackout sheet over top this is a premium sleeping place – easy! Not so easy is finding somewhere at Universal Studios where they are not constantly pumping out cheery Disney tunes at full volume and with a little shade to actually put your baby down to sleep!
But we got there. Buggy naps were gold at airports too. Most airports will let you check your buggy at the last minute before you get on and give it back as you get off at the other end, so he was able to sleep right up until check in at times.
The other things that guaranteed sleep in those ‘less than sleep friendly places’ were his comfort items.
As long as Beau has his cuddlies, he is happy, so a cuddly, or your equivalent, is a must take! I just had to keep his away from his Grandma or she would insist on washing all his delightful disgusting baby smell off them and they would lose all their powers!
Do not travel without item four:
While away we saved money by only booking one room and sharing with Beau, or, let’s be honest, putting him in the wardrobe when it was big enough! Be careful when overseas with language barriers; I once told an American babysitter that Beau was upstairs asleep in the wardrobe only to see her face drop in horror – her idea of a wardrobe was a stand-alone thing with drawers, I should’ve said walk in closet! While room sharing in close confines, there were a few things that really help:
• White noise – helps to cover the sound of you coming and going from the room and going to bed. We used an app on either our phone or ipad so it was easy to set up wherever we were.
• The Phil ‘n Ted portacot. The one that zips right up closed. The reason I loved this was that I could zip it closed and then safely cover it with a sheet to make it dark and not have to worry about the sheet falling in on Beau. Once sleep time was over, it also made a fun hut for playing in by opening the side door. Not to mention it really is the easiest cot to take from A to B in your carry on, so no chance of it being lost in the system.
We visited lots of amazing places in the States, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Getty Centre, and the Glass Garden in Seattle. Technically, Beau can say that he has been to these places, but really he has slept at those places. If you are in a bustling city, or a hot environment, an air conditioned, quiet museum makes an ideal place for nap! And who wants to have to restrain an annoying toddler in a Glass Garden anyway! Take the quiet as a chance for some shut eye and enjoy the art in peace.
My final two must take with you items are more for convenience than sleep:
• An Ergo carrier, for those places you can’t take your buggy and it’s not safe for a toddler to run around – like on the boat under the Niagara Falls.
• A clip on highchair – this was gold for meals wherever we were. Small enough to carry in your hand bag and awesome enough to clip on to 80% of tables.
Have you travelled with a baby? Tell us your top tips and the items you found most helpful to take away!
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
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