Last weekend I took Lottie to visit friends in Sydney for four days with my sister and her 8 month old son. I was a bit nervous about the flight as I’ve experienced screaming babies on many flights, and always felt sympathetic to the mothers doing their best to hush the cries. The flight over, Lottie cried (loudly) for maybe 3 minutes total, in a few short bursts which resulted in her going to sleep in my arms. This was the first sleep she’s ever had in my arms without using my boob as a comforter so that was a win. She slept for 30 minutes, which is her absolute limit these days outside of a cot. On the way back, there was more screaming – perhaps 7 minutes in total on and off. The hardest part of the journey home was not sitting with my sister. So basically I was travelling alone. I was sitting next to two very kind soon-to-be-first-time-dads who, rather than be annoyed at Lottie’s cries, were interested to see what happened next. Usually when she screams, I can coax her onto my boob, but when she’s rejecting the boob (i.e. screaming at the boob) and I’m trying to push her head onto my nipple while she screams and wriggles and struggles in the tiny gap between me and the seat in front, things did feel quite momentarily dire. At the time, it was stressful. But like the way over, eventually she did go on the boob, and soon after fell asleep for 30 minutes.
For the other two hours of both flights, Lottie was very busy. She’s at the point now where she’s not content to sit in my lap quietly without entertainment. I felt exhausted by the end of both flights from bouncing her up and down, holding her high above my head so she could laugh at the people sitting in the rows behind, and reaching for her toys she kept dropping, toys which she apparently needed in her mouth or at least in her hand. All in all, the flying with baby experience was not as bad as I feared, and Lottie was actually very good. It would be far easier with my husband’s help so next time I’ll hopefully have him with me.
The logistics after arriving in Sydney were really smooth, thanks to careful planning by my sister and the friends we stayed with. We hired a car, and we had prearranged to hire two car seats which the hire company fitted in hire car before we arrived. The high chair we hired was in the boot, so all we had to do was pack everyone into the car and drive off. This was a major plus considering it was 41 degrees when we arrived!
Our friends had borrowed two portacots and Lottie and my nephew slept amazingly in them. I already knew Lottie loves sleeping in her own cot, and she’s great in her own portacot too. But I wasn’t sure how she would go in a completely different cot, in a different house, in a different climate and a slightly different time zone. But I needn’t have worried because her sleeps were brilliant the whole time we were away.
This is where I think the sleep training is paying dividends, and also my determination to get at least a small amount of sleep in the car seat and the pram. While we were away, Lottie not only went down to sleep independently in the portacot without any fuss, and slept all night soundly, she also had a few sleeps in the car seat and in the pram, which I brought with me on the plane. She even managed to have two solid day sleeps in a house where a 40th birthday party was being held, and the noise didn’t worry her in the slightest. In fact, with all the new faces to meet and after being passed around for a lot of cuddles, she seemed exhausted by the interaction and went to sleep faster than she does at home.
Of course I don’t want to curse myself by saying ‘Lottie’s sleeps are finally sorted’, but I must admit the trip to Sydney was a confidence boost for me in proving Lottie’s sleep flexibility and versatility and self-settling skills. So if anyone is reading this and wondering if sleep training is worthwhile, I would say yes. Definitely. Lottie and my nephew were fantastic travellers. We had a lovely holiday and were able to spend lots of quality time with our friends rather than worrying about settling the babies and whether they would wake up the house during the night, and whether we could go out without them getting overtired. Obviously it wasn’t the same as a holiday without babies, where you can do whatever you want at a moment’s notice. But it was still a pleasant surprise that the babies were so low maintenance. And I put most of this down to successful sleep training.