My 18 month old sleeps well at home but not so well when we stay overnight at grandma's or go away for holidays. What can I do to make my little boy sleep well whereever we go. I am concerned as I have two weeks holidays planned for after Christmas. Tom's mum

For Babies or children to sleep well away from home they need a number of strategies or should I say Mum & Dad need a number of different strategies.  There are many times when our children need to sleep elsewhere, holidays are one, or visiting friends or grandparents is another.  Or simply if you are out for the whole day they really need to be able to sleep in a pram or other such sleeping place.

So what do we need to provide to help them?  Firstly they really need practice sleeping in other environments.  If you rarely take them out and need them to sleep elsewhere then the first couple of times you change their sleeping place and go on holiday or stay in a motel for the night, then they will struggle to adjust.  Flexibility in sleep just takes practice.

They also need their routine to be the same or similar to at home.  So if you have a 7pm bedtime, then I would keep the bedtime the same, getting them to stay up later because you are at a BBQ or at Grandmas, has really a major affect on your baby’s – child’s sleep, they become overtired with all the excitement and the later bedtime and then when you expect them to lie down and go to sleep, they then need to wind down, the tired they are the harder it is to go to sleep.  I often recommend to parents to actually put their baby/child down 10 minutes earlier than normal when out as they need that extra time to wind down.  This is the difference between crying and then sleeping or just going to sleep.

They also need the same sleeping cues or some of them that they have at home.  So if they have a comforter, a favourite blanket, or you use a sleeping bag, music etc, take that with you.  Today there is lots of options of transferring favourite music, audio onto little mp3 players and popping into your bag.

If you also have any particular bedding you can take, I’d do this as well, if it is practical of course.  His pillow, even a set of sheets, we all know how different sheets can feel when you sleep elsewhere – these are all part of his cues to go to sleep.  I would also try and arrive in the daylight so he can get use to his new place to sleep, read some books etc.  on his new bed / sleeping place.  For younger children if you are taking a porta cot – I would use it at home for a few weeks leading up to going away you can then take that porta cot all around the world and they will sleep.

 

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