Holiday Travel with Baby: 5 Tips for a Smooth Journey

Can you keep your baby on a schedule when holiday traveling? Yes! Well…kind of!

You just got baby into a consistent routine and now it’s time to travel for the holidays. No reason to panic! Our 5 tips for holiday travel with babies and toddlers help take the stress out of your holiday trek and help keep the little ones happy and calm.

Tip #1 – Practice at Home!

If you’re using a portable crib for the baby, set it up in your guest room or den in the days leading up to your holiday trip and have the baby nap or sleep there. Allow your child to get comfortable with the new feel and scent of the travel crib so when it’s set up at your destination, it’s a familiar and cozy place to sleep.Bonus points if you can do this in different rooms of the house.

Tip # 2 – Keep the Routine as Normal as Possible

This can be challenging, but eating and sleeping, as usual,  when holiday traveling with a baby will help keep things predictable for your baby, minimizing the chances of over-stimulation.

  • If renting a travel crib from a hotel, bring bed sheets and breathable bumper from baby’s crib at home to recreate the familiar sleep environment.
  • Sing the same bedtime songs you sing at home, and read favorite books.
  • Use the same PJs, pacifier and/or lovey.
  • Stick with tried and true foods to minimize the chance of unexpected diaper incidents. This is not the time to introduce new foods or formula.

Tip # 3 – Have a few tricks up your sleeve

Stock up on a few new, inexpensive toys and be ready to whip them out when your child is getting squiggly from sitting in one place.

The novelty of a toy your child hasn’t seen before, a simple doll that talks, or one of those pin impression toys can be the difference between 15 minutes of crying or 15 minutes of laughing when you’re stuck in the car or on an airplane. For our parents with twins and multiple children, “more is more” in this scenario!

Tip #4 – Take the Easy Road

I am giving you permission to hold and rock your little one to sleep when holiday traveling with a baby. You will not create bad habits and you won’t undo the routine your baby is used to at home. With all the stimulation of the holidays, baby will be more secure and calm in your arms.

There will also be a line of loved ones anxious to cuddle baby too and IT IS FINE to let baby drift off to sleep in gentle arms while you talk and visit after dinner. We have all seen the parent – and been the parent – who leaves after dinner to put baby down to sleep for an hour or more. There’s no need to miss out on this precious family time (unless you want to of course!).

Tip #5 -… But the Safe Road

While it’s tempting to let your sleeping baby spend the night in a car seat or stroller, follow the recommendations of the American Association of Pediatrics by creating a safe sleep environment and putting babies on their back for sleeping.

Babies and toddlers are pretty notorious for doing whatever they want, so as we approach the heaviest travel days of the year, one last tip is to remember that they are only this age once. If travel becomes difficult or stressful and nothing seems to help the chaos, you can never go wrong with holding, hugging or just slowing down. This too shall pass.

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Denise Stern

A mom of 3, wife of 1 and the Founder of Let Mommy Sleep, the nation’s leading team of Baby Nurses and Newborn Care Providers since 2010. Let Mommy Sleep provides nurturing care to newborns and evidence based education to their parents. Franchises are available now.

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