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Traveling with Babies and Toddlers

Traveling with infants and toddlers can be challenging, stressful and exhausting and for good reason, you somehow find yourself needing to pack everything but the kitchen sink for what seems like such a short get-away and you’re taking your precious little ones to places that are unfamiliar or less familiar than home. The sights are different, the sounds are different, even the smells are different.

Tips for making the most of overnight trips with young children

  • Prioritize a few things that are most important and be ok with letting go of some of the rest.

    • Ex: Keeping your bedtime rituals, even if beds are different and timing is off, can help your child have a smoother transition to sleep.

    • Ex: Knowing your child is at their best after an afternoon nap, you might choose to start your trip after naptime so you’re starting off on the best foot.

  • Talk about the trip with your child. More than once. Remind them frequently of what to expect and reassure them that you’ll get back to your typical routine when you return home.

  • If traveling by car, making regular stops to get out for a snack, diaper and play break can be very helpful in giving everyone a chance to regroup.

  • If at all possible, respect your child’s need to nap and offer a quiet space for them to rest.

  • If you’re nursing, know that your baby or toddler might want to nurse more frequently than they were at home. This will probably settle back down once you return to your familiar routine.

  • Expect your child to have more crying and meltdowns as they will need to release frustrations and stress from all the changes (and probably lack of quality sleep).

  • Give yourself grace as you navigate the potential challenges of parenting in a hotel or in someone else’s home.

  • Remind yourself of the purpose for the trip and try to make the most of it, knowing you can get back to normal after you go back home.

  • Expect more challenging behaviors and possible sleep regressions while you are away and try your best to handle them with calm and confidence.

  • Bring with some familiar items from home that will help your child feel more comfortable.

  • Consider what safety items might be needed.

    • Ex: Do you have a young toddler who is excitedly exploring every inch of your home? Pack some outlet covers and a baby gate to help lessen your stress while in a new space.

  • Expect there to be some transition when you return home. Your child may not immediately go back to their pre-travel sleep routine. Be patient and stick to your routines and things will settle again with time.

Sometimes traveling with infants and toddlers means surviving rather than thriving, but take heart, as they grow things will get easier and traveling with your children will take on new joys and challenges.

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