Over the River and Through the Woods

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    Holiday Travel with Baby: 10 ways to keep your tot on schedule It's the most wonderful time of year with trips to be planned and family to see and everyone being full of good cheer, right? Well, not when you have little ones. Kids don't always readily take to schedule interruptions, no matter how much fun there is to be had. As you pack your bags and prepare for everything that comes with the holiday season, try implementing some of these tips to keep your little ones on track.

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    1: Prep in advance for new time zones

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Prep in advance for new time zone Traveling across more than two time zones will cause a significant disruption in your tot’s schedule and will probably require 2 or 3 days of adjustment time, so if your trip is going to last for a week or more, it’s worth getting into the local time zone asap.

    Try moving your little one’s bedtime by 15-20 minutes toward the vacation time zone in the few days before your trip. Children’s circadian rhythms generally catch up with them naturally after 4 days or so, though our old grownup ones take longer.

    What should you pack? Check out our picks for family travel gear!

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    2: Add an extra day or two to your trip

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Add an extra day or two to your trip Taking a trip is exciting for little ones, especially if it involves big activities and seeing family, so include a buffer day for major readjustment. By giving them a day to settle in to their new atmosphere and schedule, you’ll help avoid the arrival of Little Crankypants. Remember that you’ll need an extra day on the return trip, too. Coming home is just as disruptive to everyone’s schedule, so plan for some time to recoup once you get back.

    Vacationing with the grandparents? Here’s what you’ll need to know

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    3: Opt for a redeye

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Opt for a redeye If you’re flying to your destination, it’ll be much easier to encourage sleep if you’re on a redeye. Overnight flights are dark, and your kids are naturally tired at that time of day (presumably), so they might just ignore the excitement of the plane ride and pass out, which means they won’t be overtired when you arrive. To make the process smooth for all involved, make sure to pack non-sugary snacks, change them into their PJs pre-flight, and have their favorite lovies on hand.

    Want a stress-free holiday? Follow these tips for family travel

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    4: Take advantage of a layover

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Take advantage of a layover If you have a layover, look for the children’s play area in the airport (most big airports have one), ride the inter-terminal train, or just walk around. If you have time, go outside of the airport to a grassy area and let your kids run wild for a little while. They need to burn off energy and will more readily rest on the next flight, too.

    What should every family-on-the-go have? Check out our must-haves here!

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    5: Take plenty of un-rest stops

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Take plenty of un-rest stops If you’re driving, plan for plenty of un-rest stops — stop at a park, stop for dinner — where kids can burn off some energy. The more active they are outside the car, the more likely they are to fall asleep inside. Another thing that can help is traveling later in the day — the darker it is outside, the easier it is for smallfolk to snooze. To maintain a sense of calm, bring quiet activities, video games, books, and boring movies. Also, be forewarned that sugary snacks breed inter-family resentment in confined spaces.

    Need to occupy the kids? Stock up your iPhone with these great apps for little ones!

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    6: Keep everything as familiar as possible

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Keep everything as familiar as possible Ritual is a very helpful tool when introducing a new time schedule, especially for babies. If you always put your kids down with a particular routine, song or snuggly blanket, do it on vacation, too. If they’re mentally prepared for sleep, their bodies will be less resistant.

    How to handle sleep routine disruption when you’re traveling with baby

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    7: Control the light

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Control the light Natural light and melatonin have a huge impact on our bodies’ circadian rhythms. The quickest way to readjust our clocks to local time is by absorbing as much of that sunshine as possible. If you’re going to bed at weird hours, make sure the room stays dark so your little one will fall back asleep when he wakes up at 4am, ready to go.

    Need help getting your toddler to sleep? Try these night-time tips!

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    8: Divide and conquer

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Divide and conquer If at all possible, stay somewhere where your child can sleep in her own room. She will wake up at night, at least for the first couple of nights, and if you can keep her entertained and quiet in one room (think coloring books, card games, boring storybooks), at least your partner can get some rest and be ready to take on morning duty while you catch some z’s.

    Need ideas on where to stay? Pick a place from Babble’s Top Hotels for Kids!

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    9: Allow them to nap

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Allow them to nap Children who nap tend to sleep better at night, so let him doze if he needs to. The only caveat is that you want to make sure the end of naptime and the start of bedtime are at least 4 hours apart.

    How to get children of any age ready for naptime

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    10: Stick to regular meal times

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Stick to regular meal times Try to switch to local mealtimes as quickly as possible. If your kids are waking up hungry at night, offer them warm milk and then make them hold out for a nice, big breakfast in the morning. If they’re hungry in the afternoon, keep healthy snacks on hand until the new mealtime.

    Do poor eating and sleeping habits go hand-in-hand?

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    11: Mentally prepare for having breastfeeding problems

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Mentally prepare for having breastfeeding problems If you're nursing exclusively, you may run into difficulties, as your milk let down will still be on your regular time zone. Continue to feed your baby on demand while adjusting yourself to the new time schedule. Your baby’s internal clock will catch up (it just might take a little longer). Be prepared to experience engorgement or a diminished milk supply for a day or two while everyone’s bodies adjust. Make sure to keep yourself hydrated and healthy (vitamins!), and try to get yourself onto the new schedule as soon as you can — your baby’s tummy will follow suit.

    Find out what you need for pumping away from home

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    12: Wear 'em out!

    Holiday Travel with Baby: Wear 'em out! Physical exercise is a great way to force the body onto a schedule. You (all) might really need to rest on the first day, but by day two, you should get those little guys moving around. Jump in the pool or go sledding at the park near Grandma’s house. Even just exploring your hotel or building a snowman can be energizing. Your kids will wear their little bodies out (and work up an appetite) according to plan. And hey, once your kids have adjusted to the new order of things, it’ll be just in time for you to turn around and come home again. Bon Voyage!

    Need travel ideas? Check out our favorite travel blogs from 2011!

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