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Night away with your baby? Here's how to manage their sleep

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Emma Gawne
Paediatric sleep coach

Going for a night away can come with a lot of disruption to sleep for mum and baby. In fact, just the idea of a night away can lead to lots of sleepless nights! If you’re planning to stay a night somewhere else, one technique you might like to try is habit stacking. If you’re planning to stay a night somewhere else, one technique you might like to try is habit stacking.

Habit stacking works by introducing several multi-sensory cues at bedtime. The idea is that even if one of these sleep cues is removed, hopefully your baby will still get the message that it’s time for sleep from all the other cues. So if you’re staying with family and the baby is in a travel cot, they will still get the sleep cues from, for example, their comfort blanket and lullaby and won’t be so disrupted.

I recommend choosing a cue for each of your baby’s senses: something they can hear, such as white noise or a lullaby; something they can smell, like essential oils; something they can taste, like their usual bedtime bottle; something they can feel, such as baby massage or rocking; and finally, something that they can see, e.g. their usual blanket.

You will need at least a few weeks to build up the habit. If you’re a bit short on time, here are some quick tips for travel sleep:

1. Block out the light

Maintain a dark sleep environment and cover up any chinks of light. You can buy blackout blinds with velcro that can attach anywhere - they’re a life saver!

2. Practise using the travel cot

If you are going to be using a travel cot when you are away, set it up a few days before at home. Have your child take naps in it so they get used to it in a familiar environment.

3. Respect the routine

This is a tricky one, but try and stick to your sleep routine as much as possible. Change can come with a lot of anxiety for little ones, so a solid routine will help them feel more secure and will make everything run a little smoother.