We are sadly nearing the end of summer, but you may still have a few more trips to the cottage, the zoo, and if you have an infant/toddler plus an older child in hockey or other sports - you may find these tips useful for day trips on the road! Most infants who are still on a 3 or 2 nap schedule will sleep in the car, and if you set the environment up for success your toddler who takes 1 nap might too!
Plan nap time in the car:
If you have a choice of when to leave the house, do it about 30 minutes before normal nap time. This gives you some time to fill up your gas tank, or make a stop at Tim's!
No screens or iPads if you plan on having them nap in the car.
Turn on a portable sound machine and set it on the seat beside them.
If they use a pacifier for sleep have one in their mouth, and one in hand incase they drop one!
Once you hit the road they should fall asleep - you may hear some protest at first, but just be patient and I bet they will doze off!
You may find they will wake earlier than normal, and this is because they are not in their normal environment and the transition between sleep cycles may wake them up. This is ok! Just start their wake window from here and provide an early bedtime if needed. Any nap on the go is a success!
If you are unable to plan the trip around nap time do the opposite:
Provide lots of stimulation in the car, and when you arrive at your destination provide the nap then (in a stroller, hotel room, baby carrier)
In this case - pull out the tablet! (yep I said it!) Make the exception for travel and you won't be disappointed. Download movies or shows that really interest your little one.
If they're old enough bring books, colouring books, and lots of snacks!
Have one parent sit in the back to keep them stimulated and awake to maintain the window, and provide the nap when you arrive.
Don't stress on travel days. Just do your best with following similar wake windows. If naps don't happen like they should, just provide an earlier bedtime that night. Today was filled with memories and tomorrow is a new day! If your little one has strong sleep foundations and schedules, a few days won't mess this up. Enjoy your time away, memories are SO important!
Travel day 2 nap sample schedule for a 2 hour drive:
7am: Wake, breast/bottle feed
9:00am: breast/bottle feed
9:30am: hit the road
10-11:30am: car nap
12:00pm: arrive & breast/bottle feed
2:30-3:30pm: 2nd nap ( at destination)
3:30pm: breast/bottle feed
6:30pm: bedtime routine if you can or just pjs, breast/bottle feed & bed
(if you are heading home around bedtime, follow the same tips you did for the nap in the car & transfer to crib once you get home)
I hope you find this information helpful. Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more questions about infant & toddler travel!