Helping your baby sleep in a strange environment can be easier said than done.
It happens to all of us – we need to go away on holiday or business or move home or need to move in with granny for a few weeks. We dread the disruption to our baby’s life and wonder if they will settle back into a good sleep pattern in a strange environment.
A variety of factors affect how your baby will respond to a new environment:
Firstly, how they manage change and interaction in general is a good indication of how they will cope in a new sleep space. Some babies are really laid back and go with the flow. For these easy babies, you probably don’t need to anticipate too much upheaval. Generally, by the second night they have adjusted well.
However, if your baby is a ‘slow to warm up’ or sensitive baby you may have more difficulty settling them each night.
A baby’s age also make a difference to how they adjust. Interestingly, newborns to about 6 weeks often cope quite well with change. Just as long as their feeding patterns are kept consistent and new people in the new space don’t over handle them. As your baby gets older, they may have more difficulty dealing with change.
Tips to help your baby sleep in a strange environment
To ease your baby into the new sleep environment and to short circuit any major sleep problems after a change, try the following tips:
- Take your baby’s favorite toys with them and make the new sleep space as similar to theirs at home as possible.
- Place their camp cot / pack’n’play in a similar place in the room to where they normally sleeps. For example, put the head of the cot next to a wall or away from the door (as it is at home).
- Make sure you can dim the room even if it means putting black refuse bags against the window to darken it in the evening and for day sleeps.
- Take bedding from home and their special blanky. Bedding from home and a familiar ‘doodoo’ blanky smell familiar and cue your baby into a state for sleep.
- Sensitive babies, in particular, do better in their own rooms where parents getting up or even turning over at night do not disturb them. If possible, put them in their own room. If not, put their cot away from your bed in a quiet corner. From the first day have them take their day and night sleeps in their ‘new’ room.
- Keep their bedtime routine identical to the routine you follow at home. Even though holidays are exciting times, try to keep them calm just before bed. Take them to their room and quietly look at books before putting them into their bed. Use lots of calming activities from four o’clock onwards, such as quiet walks in a sling or pouch or pram.
- If they wake at night, crying for you, wait to see if they will resettle. If not, comfort them by speaking quietly and giving them their security object or at most, place your hand on them to reassure them you are there.
For a flexible routine that adjusts with your baby’s sleep patterns, download Parent Sense and take the guesswork out of helping your baby sleep in a strange environment.