Sleep & Holiday tips

You’ve been looking forward to your holiday for ages and can’t wait for the rest and relaxation! But if your baby doesn’t sleep well while you are away, your holiday experience will be far less enjoyable that you expected.

Holidays can also be the trigger to a baby developing negative sleep habits, that can continue to effect her sleep after the return home. We often hear from customers that their baby’s sleep got much worse while they were away, and they experienced continued night waking for weeks or months later. This can include babies who were previously sleeping through the night until they went on holiday.   The issues around sleep problems & holidays apply to babies and toddlers of all ages, but in our experience it is most common for babies 5 – 12 months. Babies over 5 months quickly develop new sleep habits and this can mean negative habits form as easily as the positive sleep habits babies need to sleep through.

So how can you ensure your baby sleeps well on holiday  (and when you get home)?

 

Routine:  

Have your baby in a well established routine before you go on holiday. So while you are on holiday you will know when your baby needs to sleep, be fed and have solids. You can plan travel around this, such as driving during normal sleep times. This will help ensure your baby doesn’t get overtired, which makes babies harder to settle at night.

If your baby isn’t in a routine, start working on this at least a week before you go.  You are bound to have the odd day on holiday where baby’s normal routine just isn’t possible or it goes out the window. Please don’t decide not to worry about the routine for the rest of the holiday!! Just get back to your normal routine feed and sleep times the next day, or as quickly as you can.

Your baby may be unsettled initially by unfamiliar places and people, and consistency in routine is very helpful for baby settling quickly into the holiday.

Linen and sleeping environment  

Do what ever you can to ensure your baby has a familiar and comfortable sleeping environment while you are away.

A few tips to consider are:

  • A baby sleeping bag is a very positive and portable sleep association. This means that where ever you use it, baby knows the sleeping bag means it’s time to sleep.
  • Choose a travel sleeping bag so you can use it in the carseat and pushchair, for sleeping on the go!
  • Take the linen off baby’s cot and take that with you. This means her bed will smell familiar, even if she is sleeping in a strange bed.
  • If she is sleeping in a portacot while you are away, get her used to it for a couple of nights at home before you go.

Comfort blankies  

Another powerful and portable sleep association is a comfort blankie.   Like a sleeping bag, you can take it anywhere and it tells baby it’s time to sleep.

If your baby doesn’t have a blankie, it’s well worth getting her attached to something prior to leaving. Then you can use it at all sleep times (and we recommend only letting baby have their blankie at sleep times).

If your baby does have a blankie, we recommend taking 2 of the same blankie and alternating which one baby uses. Blankies are incredibly effective for helping babies sleep in unfamiliar situations, but not if you’ve lost it!!!

Pushchair  

Always take a pushchair with you that your baby can sleep in. Then you can keep to your routine where ever you are and your baby won’t get over-tired.   If your baby doesn’t usually sleep well in her pushchair, try to work on this before going away.

Remember the effectiveness of a gravel path or road for helping baby sleep!

Put your baby into her swaddle or sleeping bag with her blankie, then a walk over a bumpy track – magic! You can then park baby under a tree, get out your book and enjoy your holiday.

Baby carrier  

A baby carrier is also a huge help when you are on holiday – both for sleepy newborns and also negotiating airports, buses, shops etc.   Often you will need to check in a buggy and still have miles to walk with an over-tired baby or toddler.

Plus a comfy carrier means you can get out and about with your toddler, and carry him when he gets tired.

We highly recommend the amazing ergo carriers, as they are comfortable and can be used right up to 20kg toddlers. Ergos can be worn on the front, hip or back.

Bedrooms  

If your baby usually sleeps in her own room, she isn’t used to you being close by during the night. For lots of babies this means they generally resettle without you even being aware they stirred.

But holidays can be quite different. We are often squeezed into a tent, motel room or spare room at the in-laws house, baby and all. Your baby will quickly sense you are near-by and decide they would like some night time attention.

When you are planning your holiday think about where your baby will sleep and if this may effect her. If you can afford a motel with a second bedroom, go for it! And if you are staying with relatives or friends, check if there is a separate room for your baby.

If you are all going to be in the same room together, the next point is very important.       How you respond in the night . . .   This issue is crucial!!!! If you baby has been sleeping through the night, that means he can self-settle during the night without your help. This may have happened easily with your baby or it may have taken you weeks or months of really hard work.

So don’t let your baby lose those incredibly valuable skills in a week’s holiday!   By that I mean don’t train your baby over the holiday that she needs you to re-settle her. You will do this if you respond to baby the instant she cries or makes sleeping noises. Babies very quickly get used to being helped back to sleep by Mum or Dad, and may continue to want this assistance when you get home.

Have a chat before you go on holiday about how you will tackle any night-waking, particularly if you are staying with people. Anticipate that your baby is likely to wake more than usual, and know how you will deal with that.   If you are staying with other people, it can be worth mentioning that sometimes baby wakes in the night and that she generally goes back to sleep by herself.

Feeding to Sleep  

This deserves special mention – it is very common for babies to be fed to sleep while on holiday. This may be because baby is more unsettled than normal, overtired or out of their routine.

But most often it is because the parents don’t want to wake the people they are staying with and feeding baby back to sleep is the ‘easiest’ way to get baby back to sleep.   However please consider how easy it will be if you are still feeding baby back to sleep several times a night, weeks and months after your holiday. The occasional feed to sleep isn’t going to cause a change in sleep habits, but if you feed to sleep several times a night for the length of your holiday, that equals a very firmly established new habit.

As above, have a think before you go on holiday about how you will deal with night-waking. And consider if you are teaching your baby a new sleep habit that you will need to deal with on your return.

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We wish you a wonderful Christmas, happy New Year and enjoy your holidays!

Louise, Matt and The Sleep Store team xx

Camping, sleep & kids..our survival tips!

Yay Christmas is coming and this means camping. I’ve camped all my life, from 6 months old apparently. We’ve kept up a strong family history of camping, often going away for 2-3 weeks with extended family. We like to camp in remote locations, with little in the way of facilities…the best locations are usually DOC camps or those in the middle of nowhere.

We’ve had some amazing holidays and some rather hairy camping experiences. The year before last was a metre high flash flood through the camp, and last year was the highest rainfall ever recorded in the Rotorua district. Great! This year we’re crossing our fingers and toes, and splashing out on a new family set of gumboots just in case!

So I thought it was timely to share a few pearls of wisdom for those of you embarking on your first camping trip, or your first camping trip with kids…cause its just a little bit different from camping without kids!!

Here’s my tips in no particular order….

1. Buy a trailer. Seriously, buy it now. Don’t even try to pack all your camping gear in your boot unless you drive a military sized truck. You will then be able to take a really big tent (see tip 2) and all the things that will save your sanity, like a table, chairs and your kids bikes.

2. Buy the biggest tent you can afford and make sure it is waterproof. Seriously, some tents aren’t. And make sure it can stand up to a decent wind, just because its summer doesn’t mean the weather will be good!!!  And ideally have separate rooms in your tent, so you can have your own space, keep your things clean and dry, and also kids sleep better (and parents) when you are in your own room. Even if the walls are canvas!

3. Nightlights….it gets very dark in the middle of nowhere and kids who are used to a nightlight will squeal very loadly in the middle of the night when they wake up and its VERY dark. Battery operated ones or you can be eco and try solar powered ones. Also get some solar powered outside ones to show where your tent ropes are..or you will definitely trip over them when you get up to the loo.

4. if you are pregnant, pack an extra container to pee in during the night. Actually even if you are not pregnant, getting up in the rain and dark to walk to a long-drop is not fun. One of the low points of camping….be prepared!

5. Are we there yet? If you are travelling more than about 5 hours, consider breaking the journey and stay in a cabin or motel for a night on the way. Driving long distances takes a long time with kids, and don’t forget to allow time to set up your tent (especially if its new) before it gets dark!

6. Take LOTS of things to do….board games, card games, an artbox with paper, pens and stickers, buckets and spades, bikes, balls, cricket bat, rope for making swings. Take stuff for fine weather but be prepared for rain…sorry!

7. Take lots of warm clothing. Nights can be freezing in the summer, so ensure everyone has the following on their packing list..wool hat, wool socks, gumboots, decent raincoat, several sets of merinos or thermals (great for bed), sunhat…and all your usual stuff.

8. Take lots of bedding. Basically work out what you think you need, then add more for bedwetting, leaky tents, and then add more blankets cause it will be colder at night than you expect. Don’t forget an under-blanket for everyone too, because camp beds and airbeds are freezing to sleep on.

9. Remember to pack warm things for YOU! It’s very easy to forget extra bedding for you, and enough warm clothes for you….and did I mention gumboots?

10. Food. Make it simple! Cook things like spag bol at home and freeze in a icecream container. They stay frozen for days and you just heat it up! Kids can survive many days on baked beans and tinned spaghetti. It depends how remote you are going as to how much you need to take..but remember lots of snacks as the fresh air makes kids (and grownups) hungry. Take a portable BBQ if you have one…you can’t beat sausages, bread and sauce…quick and delicious. You can have veges when you get home.

11. Frozen milk! Freeze some big bottles of milk, a mixture of 1, 2 & 3 L bottles is good. If you are going remote you won’t be able to buy milk….but a 3L of milk takes many days to defrost so it keeps your chilly bin cold. And on that note, avoid opening your chilly bin. Every time you open it, it warms up a bit. We take a couple – one for things you are using regularly like margarine or cheese, and the other one which we only open very occasionally…like to sneak out the cold sav at 5pm. Yes wine oclock definitely still applies when you are camping, sometimes even a bit earlier than at home.

12. Don’t camp by a river. Ever. No matter how good the weather forecast or how far away from the river you think you are. Rivers can rise in a very scary quick time, as we found out when a metre of water went through our tent in a flash flood. Lucky we had had the sense to remove ourselves half an hour before.

13. Other useful things to pack that you might not have thought of…insect repellent, sunscreen, brush & pan to sweep all the crap out of your tent, lots of rope, clothes pegs, matches, spare gas for your cooker, solar shower, waterproof picnic rug (especially if you have little kids), waterproof overpants if you have crawlers (the dew can make grass very wet!!), a gazeboo or tarpoline/ropes and poles to make one (you need to have some shade), your highchair, tables (1 to eat at, 1 to cook on), lots of buckets for collecting water, something to wash your dishes and your kids in, dish washing liquid, pot scrubber & dishbrush, papertowels, loo paper, really good first aid kit, antihistomine, PAMOL, small transister radio for white noise, Torches, nightlight, batteries galore….and gumboots!

14. Throw your kids routine and usual bedtime out the window. There will be other kids playing and being loud, and your kids will not go to sleep when there is fun to be had. And it will be really light and you will be pushing the proverbial up hill…go with the flow, kick back and let the kids play until its dark. What about their regular bedtime??? What about it! You are camping and different rules aply. And you might even get a bit of a sleep in.

15. Travel cots…make sure your little one can sleep in it before you hit the camping ground. make sure you have watched the YouTube videos showing how you put it up, and more importantly, fold it up. Remember to pack it (I forgot one year and had to have it sent by courier!!) . And if your child is an escape artist, I recommend a twisty tie (those little wire things that used to close plastic bags) to keep the two zipper ends closed. Also handy if your child can sleep in the buggy..pack a blackout shade for your buggy, as often it is actually cooler under a tree than in the tent during the day.

16. Take something good to read and eat. You might find you actually get a holiday too. Take some really good chocolate, some wine and a good book.

We wish you a wonderful camping adventure with your little ones and look forward to hearing your stories and seeing your photos. And our fingers and toes are crossed for good weather for you and us! xx

Louise xx

The magic of white noise

Inside the womb it’s louder than a vacuum cleaner, almost as loud as a lawn-mower!!  I’m not quite sure how this was measured..it makes the mind boggle!!  But what we know for sure, is that newborns love constant, ssssshhhhing sorts of noises.

We often hear about new parents trying to keep their houses completely quiet once their precious bundle arrives, but this is the last thing a newborn wants. They have had 9 months of constant loud noise, and silence is completely foreign to them. Perhaps this is why babies are often reasonably settled in the bustle of a busy hospital but completely freak once they get home and it’s quiet.

Inside the womb your baby could hear you talking, hear the radio or TV, your workmates chatting around the water cooler. Then there’s the loud noises that were inside you, such as your dinner processing and working its way down past baby….and the ever present loud and reassuring heart-beat sounds that your precious heard for all that time on the inside.

So if your newborn is unsettled, finding it hard to fall asleep or catnapping, try some loud ‘womb service’ sounds. You can use radio static, running water, the noise from a coffee machine, washing machine, fan or hair-dryer…anything with a constant buzzing or ssshing noise is worth a try. Or get a white noise CD or white noise machine for constant ssshhhing. Or you could try providing the constant ssssshhhh yourself but this could prove even more exhausting than being pregnant!!!

We look forward to hearing how you found white noise and which sounds worked for your baby.

Sweet Dreams

Louise

White Noise really helps newborns feel at home
White Noise really helps newborns feel at home

Exhausted mum needed a plan

A dear friend of mine popped in with cake and a serious case of sleep deprivation this week. She had her second baby 5 months ago, and was really shattered from the constant broken sleep.  She hasn’t wanted to ask for help with her little one’s sleep…not wanting to be a pain. But once we started talking it was very clear what my friend needed was a plan.

With all the thousands of mums we have spoken with at The Sleep Store, the one thing that makes the biggest difference is a plan. It can be a gently gently, take 3 months to get baby sleeping through plan. Or it might be a very badly sleep deprived mum who wants a fast acting plan as her own health is suffering badly with the sleep deprivation. But the main thing is to work out the cause of the night waking and make a simple plan that mum and dad can follow in the night…

With my friend, the issue was night feeds…too many of them! Her big bonny baby would do fine with just a dreamfeed, and I reminded her to make sure he was asleep when she did the feed at about 10pm. Then I encouraged her to try any other settling technique to get her little precious back to sleep. Why not send hubby in to cuddle baby until he was calm and pop him back to bed. It was a simple enough plan that she went home armed with a new sleeping bag and a firm resolve to finally get a decent sleep.

And I am delighted to report that only 2 days later, the whole family is sleeping so much better. Baby is settling easily in the night without feeds, mum and dad are catching up on their 5 month sleep debt and will be feeling like new people.

Often people delay even considering encouraging their baby to sleep through the night, thinking it will involve months of crying and damage to their baby for life.. They worry their baby couldn’t possibly manage without 5 night feeds. But babies (and parents) do best when they get plenty of sleep, so get cracking on making a simple plan with the help of The Sleep Store today. Sweet Dreams zzzzzzzzz

woolbabe merino  sleeping bag can make a huge difference to babies resettling in the night.
woolbabe merino sleeping bag can make a huge difference to babies resettling in the night.