Healthy Sleep Travel Tips Must Include a Safe Sleep Environment: Holiday Edition

As parents, it’s your job to keep your child safe, and it’s a love that knows no bounds. For many, that means following Safe Sleep Guidelines to ensure that children are able to safely count their sheep. 

 Unsafe sleeping-related deaths are far too common, and the statistics are staggering.

  • Each year, there are an estimated 3,500 infant deaths in the U.S. due to sleep-related issues. 
  • Nearly a quarter of all mothers do not place their babies on their back to sleep.
  • Nearly 40% report using soft, unsafe bedding.

Babies are too little to keep themselves safe from potential hazards in the bed. This is why parents must be diligent in how they lay their infants down to sleep and what kind of bedding they use. This becomes even more critical as you embark on healthy sleep during holiday travel.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is when a baby under one year old suddenly dies suddenly and unexplectedly. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines SIDS as the “sudden and silent medical death of an infant under one who happen to seem healthy.” Some also refer to SIDS as crib death or cot death, because it commonly occurs when babies are sleeping.  

With such added consequences for poor sleep, parents may worry about how to keep their children safe while away from home during the holidays. 

Safe and Healthy Holiday Sleep Away From Home 

The holidays can be tough on everyone, including your children. The sudden influx of family and rush of activity can be overwhelming, as loved ones wrestle to coo and fuss over little ones they haven’t seen in ages. The constant attention and increased energy can easily affect your children’s sleep patterns, keeping them up later than usual and exhausting them more than usual.

Parents who are concerned with safe sleep may find themselves faced with unsafe sleeping scenarios while staying with relatives. Here are a few red-flag situations to keep an eye out for. 

Avoiding Unsafe Sleep Scenarios

  1. Avoiding naptime with inebriated relatives.

It’s only natural for families to want to cuddle with their newest arrival, but it’s especially unsafe for inebriated relatives who want to nap with the child. A casual nap on the couch is a time-honored holiday tradition, but sleeping with a baby in your arms after a few too many is never a good idea. 

Research shows that SIDS-related deaths were far more likely to be sleeping next to a parent who recently drank alcohol or had taken drugs. 

  1. Avoid grownup beds.

A family member or friend may volunteer to put the baby down for a nap, and while the intention is undoubtedly good-hearted, it can still impact your child’s safety if your baby isn’t put in the right environment.  

This includes checking for the following hazards:

  • A child can suffocate in a bed that is too soft.
  • Blankets or quilts can also easily become a choking hazard.
  • Babies can also roll off beds, sustaining injuries from their fall. 

Studies show that soft bedding is the top cause of suffocation-related deaths in infants, with researchers writing that suffecoation happens more than any other cause in infant deaths. Many of these deaths occur in the wrong kind of bed. 

  1. Screen family gifts.

Well-intentioned family members may flood your baby with new presents, like a monogrammed blanket or special stuffed animal. Be careful not to bring these items into the bedroom where they can become a suffocation or choking hazard.

  1. Avoid vintage cribs and playpens.

Vintage may be trendy, but it’s often not safe as far as your baby is concerned. Many older-model cribs and playpens lack the safety features of modern products, making them a serious safety risk. The Consumer Product Safety Commission provides a helpful search tool that you can use to check which products have been recalled.

Options for Parents Away from Home

Unfortunately, avoiding unsafe sleeping practices isn’t easy. Parents know all too well that it just isn’t realistic to bring your whole crib setup on the road to a friend or family member’s house. Check out these options that make safe sleep away from home possible.

  • Play Yard. While cumbersome, a play yard can be the most convenient option for parents seeking a mobile sleep and playpen for their little ones. If you are flying, be sure to check your airline’s policy for your play yard, although most will simply charge a checked-bag fee.   
  • Travel bassinet. If a play yard requires more space than you have, consider a travel bassinet. This is an option that is reserved for those who cannot yet crawl. There are tons of lightweight bassinets that can easily travel with you and take up little real estate. 
  • Rent a crib (and other baby gear). You’re not the only parent traveling with children this holiday season, so many places offer you the option to rent your equipment instead. Companies like Babyquip.com, Baby’s Away, Babies Getaway, and Traveling Baby are all services designed to deliver a helping hand with rental cribs and play yards when you need them.

Final Thoughts

The holiday season is a time to come together and enjoy the blessings we have in our lives. While coronavirus could very change the face of traditional holiday celebrations this year, families all over the world are determined to find a way to be together and celebrate the holidays. 

Travel can make it very hard to maintain proper sleep habits for your growing children, but with a little care and creativity, it is certainly possible. Whether it is making extra arrangements for rentals or accommodations on the road, ensuring your child is in safe environments, or maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, you can ensure that you and your family have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season with just a little preparation.