By Tracy G. Cassels
Before I had my own daughter, I remember hearing friends with kids complain about how their babies reacted to traveling – they were extra fussy, especially at night-time. This isn’t surprising at all, as many babies don’t like the night at the best of times, but throw in a foreign environment and a new bed (rarely can people bring their own cribs) and it must be absolutely terrifying. I figured, at the time, that it was just a part of having a baby and needing to travel and really couldn’t be avoided. I mean, just put yourself in the place of a baby. Imagine that you’ve moved to a new city where you don’t understand anyone or any of their actions, everything is just completely foreign and new. There are a couple of people that seem to help you out most of the time and you’re starting to feel comfortable where you’re staying when suddenly you find yourself being taken somewhere else. Now, when it gets dark, everything is completely foreign once again – strange noises, shadows, a weird bed – and you’re expected to just keep on truckin’ as if nothing was wrong. Personally I’d be scared shitless and I bet most of you would too. And that’s as grown-ups with levels of maturity and some understanding of human behaviour. A baby? Poor bastards don’t have a chance.
But what if it were slightly different? Imagine if you will that in this strange place there are two people who take care of you, and at night, they’re with you all the time so you feel constantly safe and secure. When they whisk you away to someplace new, it looks weird, but come night, they’re right there with you again. How do you feel? Safe and secure. And because of this security, you feel a bit safer to explore the new place and enjoy it because you know that you’ll be taken care of. That is the tale of parents who co-sleep. Their babies are seemingly fine with all sorts of external changes (which in our world equates to travel), so long as mom (and/or dad) is there at night with them to keep them safe. Then it doesn’t matter where the hell you are. Hawaii. Minnesota. New York. Whistler. Who cares? Baby knows he or she is safe and can actually enjoy the experience of something new.
There are also a few additional bonuses of co-sleeping and thus co-sleeping while traveling. One, not only does baby sleep, but because baby sleeps, guess who else is nice and rested on vacation? Mom and dad. And it’s fucking awesome. I can’t imagine paying to go somewhere like Hawaii and being too tired to truly enjoy the time there. If that’s the way it is, why travel at all? (And that’s what happens with many people – they put off travel with baby because it can be such a burden.) Two, less to travel with or worry about. When you don’t have to bring a crib or make arrangements for one, you don’t have to either bring your own or worry about what they’ll have at the hotel. Too many hotels don’t have the safest of cribs, much less ones that are still within their warranty. That’s an added layer of stress right there that no one wants to deal with on vacation. And three, for those parents who have their babies in a different room, suddenly finding themselves in a small hotel room with a baby means sleep is even harder for baby (and thus parents) because of the noise changes. When you co-sleep, it’s not a problem. Your child is used to the noises you and your hubby make while getting ready for bed or watching TV and thus they sleep through them. There’s no extra tiptoeing around with a co-sleeping baby. And because they tend to fall into your schedule more naturally, they will usually stay up and wait for you to go to sleep at your usual time.
There are very serious benefits to co-sleeping that I cover elsewhere, but this is one of those little ones that often gets overlooked. And yet, traveling, having a weekend away, going on a cruise, taking that tropical vacation, are things that (if possible) ease the daily stresses we face. Making those times more enjoyable for all is a nice thing, and shouldn’t be overlooked.