Top Tips For New Parents Going on Holiday

Top Tips For New Parents Going on Holiday - Sleepy Bubba

YES! It is the END OF THE YEAR! I am sure for many of you new mummies, it is time to take a much needed break, and take that long awaited trip since covid restrictions + having a baby (pregnancy time included)! 

I may not be going anywhere this December (because I have already used up my leave for a 3 week long Eurotrip with my boys in August), but my social media is already flooded with travel posts from friends, many of whom are bringing their kids along to faraway destinations!

Are you going overseas for a holiday soon too but anxious about your child’s sleep? You may be worrying about nap times, adapting to a new sleep environment, disrupted scheduling, and even just time zone differences. That is all very normal, and good that you are actually thinking about these! 

Coming from a travel-experienced mum (and cheapskate dad) who brought our firstborn on 7 trips before he turned 2 to maximize the value of our flight tickets, I can assure you that you can still have a great sleeper during (and after) your holiday, even if things are going to be quite different during the trip!

To save you the trouble and pain of learning the hard way, allow me to share with you some tips that I have distilled from my travel experiences:

Planning For The Trip

These are useful if you haven’t even bought your ticket or planned your itinerary. Otherwise, it still isn’t too late to make changes to your plans.

1. Choose the best departure time

The truth is there is no best departure time, but there are some general guidelines. If it’s a short flight, aim for a daytime flight around their nap times. Your baby can breastfeed while taking off in order to equalize the pressure on their ears, and fall asleep eventually. It works on boats too due to the rocking. This is where you should not expect your child to fall asleep on his own since it is way out of their comfort zone.

For long travel times of >8hrs (which I don’t recommend till the kid is at least 2), red-eye flights might work better but there will always be a risk that the kid does not sleep well and will stay awake and cranky throughout, keeping you awake and tired (while affecting other passengers), so it might greatly affect your first day of travel or when your return home. Whatever your plan is, don’t start their first experience on a long flight, start with short trips to see if they can adapt first.

2. Be less ambitious with your itinerary

Needless to say, don’t expect to hit all the stops on your trip. I strongly suggest working in at most 2 activities (1 in each half of the day), plan for longer meal times, and cater buffer time for naps and your own rest. If possible, plan nothing on the first day, focusing on settling in and adapting to the new environment. When that’s done, continue to manage your expectations and keep things light and flexible. After all, it is a holiday, so don’t take the itinerary too seriously.

3. Be selective on accommodation

Be sure to book a room with plenty of space for your child to move around. The best arrangement will be one where your child can have his own separate space if he is used to having his own sleeping space. This is where apartments are often better than hotel rooms. This also helps you have some time to yourselves when the child sleeps in the dark. Having a kitchen is always a plus when you need to cook and heat up milk.

4. Plan for naps (if baby is less than 3 years old)

As mentioned above, naps need to be planned into the schedule. Plan for drives, return to the accommodation, baby wear, or a nap in the stroller. 

Going On The Trip

1. Sleep well before your trip

Everyone on the plane/ship/bus, including yourself, will thank you for having a happy baby on board, who doesn’t scream and cry all the time. SO MAKE SURE THEY HAVE A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP the night before. It helps that you are well-rested and feeling in top condition too. A good night’s sleep also means you don’t book an early morning flight that disrupts the daily routine.

2. Create a familiar sleeping environment

Try to keep it as similar as home. Request for a cot from the accommodation or bring along a pack ‘n’ play. Bring his favourite pillow too! I would also recommend anything else in his safe environment that builds familiarity and comfort, and do consider bringing along your baby monitor, at least for yourself to feel safe that the kids are sleeping.

3. Maintain the bedtime routine

For sure, you would love to head out and explore the nightlife like you used to. But consider how that would affect the rest of the night if your kid’s routine is messed up completely. Similar to point 2 on itinerary planning, if you do plan to have a night out with the kid, make sure you have an easy morning plan the next day. Needless to say, keep your bedtime routine consistent and as close to what you do at home as possible. That consistency is also useful when deciding what to do in the evening before and after the routine. 

4. Consider the Time Difference

If you are traveling for only a few days, I would encourage you to stay on your home time, if possible. 

Traveling east to west (eg Singapore to Europe):

One option is to add in an extra nap to make it to a normal bedtime in the new time zone.Watch your baby and do what you can without pushing him to be completely overtired. 

Traveling west to east (eg Singapore to Australia):

When it’s 7:00 pm at home, it might be 10:00 pm in the new time zone. Perfect! Maybe your baby goes to bed and sleeps in a little later on vacation. 

5. Return to normalcy immediately

Top Tips For New Parents Going on Holiday (2) - Sleepy Bubba

Once home, return to your usual routine. Don’t continue the habits that you built during the vacation. It will be tempting to go with “it will take time to adjust back to normal”, but the faster you switch back, the better it is.

6. Manage expectations

The most important thing is to manage your expectations. Traveling as a family means dedicating much more effort to cater to the kid’s needs, especially with sleeping. Sleep and rest is especially precious on a trip, so make sure it is prioritized. So be prepared to make adjustments and don’t be disappointed if some objectives are not achieved. It is all part of the experience! Tough as it may be to travel with a young one, it is a worthwhile and truly memorable experience!

Last but not least, I hope you find these tips helpful and give you more confidence to bring your little ones along on your upcoming holiday trip.

If you’re considering to hire a sleep consultant to help your baby build healthy sleep habits, feel free to schedule a free 15 minutes discovery call with me. I’m happy to discuss with you how I can help. Happy Holidays!


  • Leann Low

    Hi, I am Leann Low, a Certified Baby Sleep Consultant and a mother to two healthy and energetic boys. I am a Baby Sleep Consultant based in Singapore, certified by the Sleep Sense™ Program created by Dana Obleman. As a sleep-deprived parent turned sleep consultant, I am certain that I can help you achieve the good sleep that you and your little one sorely need.