Travelling with your children is a wonderful way to spend quality time as a family. But how to travel with a toddler who has sleeping and drinking problems requires some strategic planning.
Our own toddler daughter is a light sleeper and gets fussy about drinking especially when out of her home environment. I’ve had to come up with some savvy ideas to manage this on our travels. I’d like to share these tips with you.
This post is part or our best travel advice series – a guest contribution by Balint from ProjectFather
1. Use Sleep Inducing Scents to Get Your Baby to Sleep
Essential oils are a natural alternative to calming your toddler at bedtime, eventually soothing them into a peaceful sleep. Our favourites are lavender for a restful sleep, cedarwood for creating a comforting atmosphere and frankincense for those days when your toddler is out of sorts.
Simply add a few drops to a diffuser or rub on the soles of your little one’s feet.
2. Dress Your Baby In Comfortable Sleeping Clothes
Dressing your baby in comfortable sleeping clothes helps them to feel secure and cosy. With warm weather, dress your baby in light and breathable sleeping clothes. Choose 100% organic cotton fabric and cover with a muslin blanket if necessary.
Fleece baby pyjamas or a thicker sleep sack is an excellent way to keep your baby comfortable and warm on cold, winter nights. You could also cover your baby with a swaddling blanket.
3. Make Sure the Sleeping Arrangements Are Comfortable
We take our daughter’s portable crib whenever we go on a trip. A portable crib is a useful item to have both at home and for travels. They’re light, easy to fold up and are space-saving.
It’s essential to pack some crib sheets as well especially for those longer trips. They take very little space when packing and how many crib sheets you need depends on how long your trip will be. We always like to take two to three crib sheets with us.
4. Drown Out Noise Problems
Noise can become a problem when in a new environment and your baby will notice every new strange sound! White noise machines work well for drowning out other noise while soothing your baby into a deep and restful sleep. My daughter loved a humming white noise.
Download a YouTube recording onto your mobile of white noise such as this one which I used. I know, it’s strange, it’s a hair dryer’s noise. Place your phone next to your baby’s sleeping spot and let them be soothed to sleep. This worked for us very well.
5. Mimic Your Baby’s Bedtime Routine
Babies thrive on routine and mimicking your baby’s bedtime routines while travelling will help them to sleep better even in strange environments. Pack your little one’s favourite bedtime stories and cuddly toys you use for their bedtime routine.
Sticking to your baby’s routine means there will be minimal interruptions to their sleeping patterns and you have more chance of them going to sleep happily.
6. Gamify Your Baby’s Drinking Experience Using Stuffed Toys
Our daughter tends to get fussy when it comes to drinking while on trips away from home. But, we’ve learned to turn her feeding time into a game with her stuffed toys. By letting her toys “drink” first, our daughter is encouraged to also take sips of her drinks. Her favorite (now) is a white rabbit.
Gamifying the baby’s drinking experience using their favourite stuffed toys brings a sense of security and comfort to your baby when they’re in a new environment.
7. Make Sure You Pack His or Her Favourite Snacks
Packing your toddler’s favourite snacks is another way to get them to eat when they get fussy on trips. Pick healthy snacks that you know your toddler will eat at any time and are easy to travel with. An ice bag with thinly sliced fruits, cheese, and yoghurts is useful for travelling.
Smaller portions work well for fussy toddlers so go for little muffins, whole-grain crackers and pretzels which your toddler will enjoy nibbling on.
8. Make Sure Bottles Are Warm
Ensuring your baby’s bottles are always warm means they’re more likely to drink. My daughter doesn’t like cold water. Depending on where your travels take you, it would be a good idea to pack a bottle warmer that can be used anywhere.
A stainless steel thermos with hot water is another simple solution when travelling as long as you have access to boiling water.
9. Bring Along Your Baby’s Favourite Drinking and Eating Utensils
Surrounding your toddler with his or her favourite items will help them to feel safe in an unfamiliar environment. We always pack our daughter’s favourite drinking and eating utensils when traveling.
Our toddler daughter is now using a sippy cup and we pack different ones to add some novelty to her drinking experience. She gets to choose her favorite sippy cup for the day and she looks forward to her drinks.
10. Try Different Flavoured Juices
Using different flavoured juices often works for toddlers who are keen to experiment with other flavours. Once again, we bring in the game technique and our daughter loves to tell us what her juice tastes like.
This tip only works for children who are open to exploring different foods so if your child prefers to stick to what they know, don’t try this when in a new environment.
Got an older child that’s still super fussy? See all our top 12 travel tips for picky eaters here
What Should I do If My Baby Isn’t Feeding?
If your baby isn’t feeding while travelling, consider offering them smaller portions of food more often throughout the day. Let them experiment with different flavours, turn feeding time into a game, and have your meals at the same time as they do.
Can I Give a Toddler Sleep Inducing Medication Before Traveling?
Giving your toddler sleep inducing medication is not recommended. However, your doctor may prescribe a safe drug for long flights. It’s a good idea to test run the medicine with your baby before you go on a trip to make sure there aren’t any adverse effects. Rubbing essential oils on the bottom of their feet also helps to keep your baby resting peacefully while travelling.
Ways to Calm Your Toddler During Your Travels
Packing a bag with all your toddler’s favourite toys, books, and blankets means you have the necessary items to help keep them calm during your travels. Make sure you have some pacifiers on hand if your toddler is still using them and if you’re on the road, playing their favourite songs will help calm them.
Travelling with babies and toddlers can be overwhelming. But, if you’re well-organised and prepared for all eventualities it can be easily done. This way you remain calm while settling your toddler into a travelling routine.
Balint Horvath is the founder of Projectfather. He’s a first-time father and when his daughter doesn’t occupy him, he is a productivity coach. He started the site to share his lessons learned, research he has made along his journey. His mission Is to help Dads in A-Z of Fatherhood.
More reading for toddler travel
With thanks to Balint for this great contribution to the Globetrotters Blog. Traveling with toddlers can certainly be a nerve-wracking but also very rewarding experience. If you’d like more advice on traveling with toddlers we encourage you to jump deeper into the Globetrotters site, we have guides for:
- Toddler Travel Essentials – the Top 20 items we never leave home without
- Road Tripping with a Toddler – keeping your sanity on long car drives with young kids
- Toddler Camping Tips & Essentials – You’ll want to pack these items when camping with small kids
- Hiking with Toddlers; How to make it fun! – The best toddler hiking advice to keep little legs motivated + the best hiking shoes and best structured hiking carriers for toddlers
- Don’t make these 10 Toddler Flying mistakes – learn from the long-haul flying experts how to prepare for a toddler flight
- The Best Toddler Travel Products – we have reviews from the best slimline strollers perfect for travel through to toddler reins, cute backpacks and portable toddler beds.
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