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Navigating Thanksgiving Travel with a Little One: A Guide to Maintaining Your Child's Sleep

thanksgiving place setting

Thanksgiving is a time for family, feasting, and gratitude. Many families look forward to reuniting with loved ones during this holiday season, and for some, that means traveling with their little ones. However, if you're a parent with a baby or young child, you may be concerned about how to maintain your child's sleep routine while on the road. Fear not! With a bit of planning and flexibility, you can enjoy a harmonious Thanksgiving while preserving your child's precious sleep.

1. Plan Ahead

Before you hit the road, take some time to plan your trip. This includes choosing the best travel time for your child's sleep schedule. If possible, depart or arrive at your destination during your child's naptime or bedtime. This can help ensure that your little one gets some quality sleep during the journey.

2. Stick to Routines

While travel can disrupt your usual daily routines, try to maintain some consistency. Keep naptimes and bedtimes as close to the usual schedule as possible. This familiarity can help your child feel more secure and reduce the chances of sleep disturbances. Over-planning and over stimulation can lead to bedtime protest, night wakings, and early morning wake ups!

3. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Whether you're staying at a relative's house or a hotel, make your child's sleeping environment as comfortable and familiar as possible. Bring along their favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or white noise machine to recreate their home sleep environment. If you're local, I rent out my SlumberPod that is great for traveling when you have to share a room with your child.

4. Be Mindful of Time Zones

If you're crossing time zones, remember that it may take a few days for your child to adjust to the new schedule. Gradually shift naptimes and bedtimes to match the local time to minimize disruptions.

5. Stay Calm and Flexible during Thanksgiving Travel

Traveling can be stressful, but it's important to stay calm and adaptable. Children can sense their parents' stress, so try to maintain a positive attitude, and be prepared for some deviations from the routine. Your child's sleep might not be perfect during the trip, and that's okay.

6. Take Breaks

If you're on a long car journey, plan for regular breaks. Allow your child to stretch their legs and have a little playtime. This can help them expend some energy, making it easier for them to fall asleep in the car.

7. Use Technology Wisely

Tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices can be a lifesaver during travel. Download your child's favorite videos, games, or apps to keep them entertained during the trip. However, use them sparingly, as excessive screen time can disrupt sleep. Cut technology 60-minutes prior to sleep because blue light can suppress your child's melatonin production and kick out cortisol, which nobody wants before bed!

8. Enjoy the Moment

Remember that the holiday season is about spending quality time with loved ones. Embrace the joy and excitement of Thanksgiving, and don't stress too much about maintaining the perfect sleep schedule. Your child's sleep may be temporarily disrupted, but the memories you create during this special time will be cherished forever.

Traveling with a little one during Thanksgiving can be a memorable and enjoyable experience with a bit of preparation and flexibility. Prioritize your child's sleep, but also savor the moments you share with family and friends. Safe travels, and happy Thanksgiving!

Download my free Sleep Survival Guide to help you through any traveling you have coming up, located on my home page and on the footer of each page!

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