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Travelling and Sleep by Lucy Wolfe Sleep Consultant

Travelling and Sleep by Lucy Wolfe Sleep Consultant

Travelling with young children can be a big undertaking. You have to pick your destination with care, you don’t want to go somewhere that is too hot, or not hot enough, you will need to try to avoid flights that are too long, transfer times that that wouldn’t suit a young baby or toddler, not to mention the accommodation, pools, activities, kids clubs-it can be exhausting just thinking about it.

In an effort to help make your holiday the well-deserved, restful break that it should be, here’s a few suggestions to achieve that and to make sure that the family remains well rested throughout.

    1. If your child has a typical day and nighttime schedule that suits them, this will remain even though you are away from home. Ideally, parents would like their children to be flexible and adjustable whilst on holiday and this often is achievable based on the temperament of your child. You will know your own child best, but if you find that typically your child doesn’t adjust well to change or being overtired then you will need to make a conscious effort to ensure that you maintain a predictable and regular schedule during the holiday. Understandably, the day that you travel, things will always be a bit disjointed, but when you arrive at your destination, you can begin to organise your sleeping arrangements.

    2. With small children who still need several daytime naps then you may want to try to do a nap or two on the go in the buggy or car. A snooze shade that darkens up the space can be helpful, but that won’t account for external noises that, with a child over 6 months, can cut their sleep short- just like you would be awoken by external noises during a rest period. Lots of children are great to sleep out and about, but many children will require parents to maintain their naps in a cot or usual sleep-setting.

    3. By allowing your child to nap well on holiday, it may also give you flexibility with bedtime and you may be able to extend it later than at home and enjoy eating out and entertainment in your location.

    4. To help your child transition to sleeping in a different cot in an unfamiliar environment bring with you some familiar sleep items from home. I would start with the sheet from the cot that your child slept on the night before travel; that way when you arrive at your destination, you can dress the cot with linen that smells familiar and that can help to calm them and take the fear and anxiety out of being placed in a strange cot.

    5. If you use music or certain books during your typical wind-down, be sure to bring them with you too. If you can keep your bedtime routine the same, that can help to give your child the sleep cues that they are used to, which can alleviate a struggle.

    6. For the first few nights your child may need more reassurance than normal, so make sure you help them acclimatise, extend the length of the bedtime routine and offer support as signalled for.

    7. Don’t forget they we don’t sleep well if we are too hot or too cold, so adjust the clothing for sleep accordingly and try to ensure that the temperature of the room doesn’t exceed 20 degrees.

    8. If you are travelling through time zones, then it is best to get into local time as soon as you arrive in your destination. From the first morning after your arrival, I suggest waking by 7.30am local time, and planning your day as before. It can hinder sleep if you allow naps to over-run, so it can be best to limit the naps as you would at home and create sleep pressure for bedtime.

    9. Whether you have a time difference or not it can be hard to sleep in a new location, so be patient, understanding and gentle with yourself and them. When you arrive back home, quickly assume local time. Understand that if you have travelled through more than 5 time zones then it may take 2-3 weeks for sleep to settle down again, once you are back home.

I would encourage parents to be prepared and to manage any minor sleep disturbances with predictability and patience and above all, enjoy the well-earned break and quality time with your loved ones.

Lucy Wolfe, Ireland’s leading responsive Sleep Practitioner, Relationship Mentor, Post-Graduate Researcher (PhD), bestselling Author of The Baby Sleep Solution and All About the Baby Sleep Solution and Mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise, and valuable support to families around the world. See and 


At Mummy Cooks, we know that traveling with young children can be a challenge. That's why we've put together a collection of our most popular travel advice for families in our Out and About Travel Advice page. Whether you're preparing for a trip, looking for tips on feeding your child while on holiday, or trying to figure out how to eat out with toddlers and young children, we've got you covered. Check out our articles for all the information you need to make your next family holiday a success

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