Travel Tips for Parents
IT'S TRAVEL TIME! Yippee! Parents are asking me for tips on how to keep you and your child healthy and happy during this fun, active season.
Here are my suggestions:
AVOID ILLNESS FROM PLANE TRAVEL...take a small spray bottle of lavender water to spritz in the air and inhale every few hours (should not contain alcohol). Lavender kills many viruses and bacteria in the air and helps keep airways moist. You can also moisten a cloth if you prefer and hold it under your nose for 5 minutes to get the same effect. Drink lots of water if you are in warm weather and make sure your children (over age one year) do the same. For babies, you may need to breastfeed more often as the dry air in planes is dehydrating.
AT THE AIRPORT...
Exercise your crawling baby/toddler at the airport by letting him crawl, move, run, walk, climb as much as possible the hour before you board. Get there a bit early to allow for this. Bring a blanket for the floor.
ON THE PLANE...
1. For baby, take plenty of lap amusements like new toys, rattles, puppets, and books. For a toddler, some of my favorite choices are stickers, wind up toys, toys with buttons to push, a deck of colorful picture cards (like the ABCs or animals.) Only use these if your child needs to be entertained. Children are often amused by other passengers, looking around, and the lap table in front of you!
2. Offer a short video only if absolutely necessary. Showing children a flat screen for more than 10-15 minutes a day is not recommended as it can affect the brain in a negative way.
3. For toddlers, offer a snack like Graham's and milk 20 minutes before you want to have them to have some sleep. Carb snacks elevate blood sugar and can create sleepiness.
4. SLEEP whenever you and your child can on long flights.
IN THE CAR
1. Stop every few hours to stretch, let your child move, and eat/drink. Try to limit driving time to 6 hours in a day.
2. Have car toys as recommended above. Your child may need you next to her in the back seat at certain times, if you are on a long ride.
3. Get out and exercise when you reach your final destination.
4. Have a longer bath and bedtime routine to help relax and reassure your child.
5. Don't over-fill your sightseeing agenda. You cannot do everything in a day as you could prior to having children.
6. Allow more transition time at bedtime if you are staying in new places. Get excited and tour each new hotel room or house. Talk about their crib or bed and how special it is. Role modeling your excitement is important. Reassure them that they are safe and secure. If you bed share with your child, make sure you remind them this is special and just while traveling!
WHEN YOU ARRIVE...
1. When you arrive at your final destination and you are adjusting to time changes, get outside and spend time in natural light and fresh air. I find the best activity is swimming! DO NOT GO TO SLEEP until 7-8pm (if you can possibly help it) with large time changes. Have dinner, a bath or shower and crawl into bed early. If your child wakes at 3 or 4 am, nurse, or if an older child, have a carb snack and read a book, stay up 30-60 minutes only, then back to sleep. The Camilia homeopathic or other herbal sleep remedies can be useful. Tylenol at bedtime is appropriate if your child seems uncomfortable and irritable. Then, get up for the day the next time you awaken (hopefully 6am or later) and eat breakfast and get on the move outside! Early morning light helps set our sleep hormones.
2. For children under 18 months, give your child the first nap 1-2 hours after awakening. Other naps for the day can be in the stroller and on the move. Try to move bedtime later for yourself and your child by an hour each day until you have it where you want.
Ask your doctor about using melatonin, or any sleep remedy to help reset your internal clock and your child's.
These tips can work for the reverse trip home as well.