I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t want her baby sleeping in the bed with her on vacation. I gave in at first, mostly because I didn’t want our hotel neighbors complaining about the blood-curling screams in the next room. Eventually, though, I wanted a real vacation where I could sleep with my husband in a comfy king-size bed—alone. On our last trip, we finally got it right. Here are the key things to do if you want your baby to sleep the night in a hotel in her own bed:
Prepare: Start 2 weeks in advance. Set up the travel play yard or toddler bed in your child’s room or wherever she normally sleeps. Spend a lot of time associating the bed with positive things that mean something to your baby or toddler at her time of development. In our case, we have a bear with one leg that she particularly likes. Whenever she was ready to take a nap or go to bed, I would tell her, this is One-Leg Bear’s bed. He is going to sleep in here. If she wanted him, I would put her in the play yard for as long as she wanted. As soon as she cried to get out, I would take her out.
Gradually she would stay in for longer, playing with all the stuffed animals I had dumped in there. Then, I started putting her in the play yard for naps. I would follow a sleep routine: ask One-Leg Bear if he was ready to go to sleep; put him in the play yard; do Baby J’s normal sleep routine and put her in the bed. Since it seemed normal to her by then she didn’t cry, but this was also in the room she normally slept.
Packing: Pack all the things you’ve associated with the bed—stuffed animals, blankets, foam play yard mattress, sheets. It’s important to recreate the experience as to minimize the unfamiliar.
Pick This Battle: If you’ve done the whole sleep routine and your baby is screaming her head off while god forbid, the neighbors are pounding on your shared wall, don’t give in. The first two nights in the hotel Baby J still cried for about 5 minutes. Remember that you are enduring a small amount of crying to avoid repeating the crying every night, at multiple times per night, for the entire vacation. Use your head and your heart, but if baby’s old enough, make your point.
Otherwise, you may end up moving her back and forth from the bed to the floor and back to the play yard! Your baby may be a fighter, so plan to stay in a hotel or motel not filled with romantic couples or otherwise silence-seeking folks.
Push Back Bedtime: Get on your baby’s sleep schedule, within reason. Push back her bedtime and go to sleep when she does to avoid possibly waking her up or losing precious vacation sleep hours to sitting in the dark in your hotel room. You’ll be able to sleep longer and therefore be okay with waking up earlier. If you can’t go to sleep when she does, bring along your iPad or portable movie player and a headphone splitter so you and your husband can watch something together.
I hope these tips will help your baby sleep through the night in a hotel in her own bed. Getting a good night’s sleep is the best part of a vacation!
Photo by wwarby