Sleep Tips for Kids on Holidays

Travelling with young children can be a big undertaking. There’s a lot to be considered when picking your destination, from temperatures at your resort, to flight times and transfers that suit your young baby or toddler, to accommodation, activities and kids clubs! It can be exhausting just thinking about it all! Lucy Wolfe from Sleepmatters has sleep tips for kids on holidays.

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Pack wisely

Once you have decided on your destination, pack accordingly making sure you remember all the essentials to get you through the first few days…nappies, wipes, bottles for example.

Prepare for the journey

Little boy traveling in an airplane sitting in his seat playing with a tablet computer watched by a parent

Be prepared for the journey so that you can occupy and distract your little person whilst trying to get to your destination.

Older children can enjoy colouring, watching movies, playing computer games but your toddler may need more attention from Mum and Dad to get through the time. Have food and drink at your disposal and a spare pair of clothes for your younger child because if you don’t bring them, for sure, they will be wet or soiled before you touch down.

Tips for Managing the sleeping schedule

From a sleep point of view I would encourage parents to plan accordingly. If you child has a typical day and night time schedule that suits him/her, this should remain despite the fact that you are away from home. Here’s a few key point to remember :

#1. Not all kids adjust well to change

Ideally, parents would like their children to be flexible and adjustable whilst on holiday and this often is achievable. You will know your own child best, and if you find that typically your child doesn’t adjust well to change or being overtired, then you will need to make a conscious effort to ensure that you maintain a predictable and regular schedule during the holiday.

Understandably, the day that you travel, things will always be a bit disjointed, but when you arrive at your destination, you can begin to organise your sleeping arrangements.

#2. More than one day-time nap

With small children who still need a number of day time naps then you may want to try to do a nap or two on the go in the buggy or car. A snooze shade that darkens up the space can be helpful, but that won’t account for external noises which can casue a child over 6 months to cut their sleep short.

#3. Naps in a cot/sleeping environment

child sleepingLots of children are great to sleep out and about, but many children will require parents to maintain their naps in a cot/sleeping environment which can mean “balcony” time for one or both parents.

Toddlers who require one nap in the middle of the day means that they are inside at the hottest part of the day. Also, nap time gives parents a chance to rest when you wouldn’t normally at home, so there are benefits!

#4. Benefit of a good day-time nap on holiday

If you allow your child to nap well on holiday, it may give you flexibility later in the day with bed-time. You may be able to extend it later than at home, and enjoy eating out and entertainment in your location.

It’s important, not to allow your child to become over-tired during the holiday period as that, coupled with sleeping in a strange room and maybe in a warmer environment can exasperate frequent night time awakenings. This may leave you needing a holiday to get over the holiday you have just had!

#5. Helping transition to different cot/bed

To help your child transition to sleeping in a different cot/bed/room, it’s a good idea to bring with you some familiar sleep items from home.

Bring the sheet from the cot that your child slept on the night before travel. When you arrive at your destination, you can dress the cot with linen that smells familiar, which can help calm your child, and take the fear and anxiety out of being placed in an unfamiliar or strange cot.

#6. Maintain normal bed-time routine

If you use music or certain books during your typical wind-down, be sure to bring them with you. If you can keep your bedtime routine the same, that will give your little one the sleep cues that s/he is used to, and has come to know means “that it is time for bed”, which can alleviate a struggle.

#7. Don’t start any bad habits!

For the first few nights your child may need more reassurance than normal, so make sure you help them acclimatise. Don’t start doing things that you wouldn’t normally at home like over-night feeds, sharing the bed or staying with them if you don’t typically. Those habits can become quickly ingrained.

#8. Make sure the temperature is right

We don’t sleep well if we are too hot or too cold, so adjust your child’s clothing for sleep accordingly, and try to ensure that the temperature of the room doesn’t exceed 20 degrees.

#9. Sharing your room

If your children don’t normally share your room at home but they have to on holidays, try to move their bed as far away from yours as possible within the confines of the room, so that their personal sleep space is somewhat defined.

#10. Be patient!

I would encourage parents to be prepared and to manage any minor sleep disturbances with consistency and patience and above all, enjoy the well earned break and quality time with your loved ones.

About Author

Lucy Wolfe CGSC. MAPSC, Paediatric Sleep Consultant (birth-6years) and mum of four. She helps families to establish healthy sleep with personlised plans, without leaving children to cry it out…
You can contact Lucy on tel: 087 2683584, web:, and facebook:

You may also like 5 Sleep Routines for Back to School and Baby & Child Sleep : How clocks changing affects them & 8 Practical Tips for Easing Motion Sickness in Kids

Over to you! Have you got a tip to share that helped your child when you went on holidays?

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