Temperament and Travel: Advice for Travel with the Unpredictable Child

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zonked in Costa Rica toddler
Zonked in Costa Rica: No nap, no bedtime, no bed for that matter? It may be no problem for the Unpredictable Child.

Have you been helped by the “Temperament and Travel” series yet? This mom wrote in to share her thoughts:

“I LOVE your new series as the temperament of the child is truly key to traveling. My boy is high-energy AND eager and your newsletter will make my life easier in just a few weeks. I will take my son to Europe for three weeks by myself (my husband usually joins me for the summer, but this year he cannot) and I will have to deal with my little lightning-rod all by myself while in Austria. So your tips and suggestions could not come at a better time!” – Bettina

Today we continue with “Very Regular’s” opposite: the “Unpredictable Child.” Does this sound like the little one in your life?

Portrait of the Unpredictable Child:

Do her physiological needs and functions vary from day to day, with different waking times and varied lengths of naps? Is it hard to anticipate when the next bowel movement will strike? Or whether or not she will take an afternoon nap? And if she’s up late one night, does she easily make up for lost sleep as needed?

Advice for Travel with the Unpredictable Child

This child comes with his own set of checks and balances as far as travel is concerned. What you may gain in the way of flexibility (interrupted sleeping routines), you may make up for in surprises (blow-outs and unexpected trips to the bathroom). Here are some helpful things to keep in mind.

UppaBaby GLite stroller
A lightweight travel stroller with ample recline for snoozing-on-the-go may make be very helpful in your travels with the Unpredictable Child.

NAPPING & SLEEPING – Although there is no guarantee he will nap on the flight or go to sleep at the usual time in an an exciting new hotel room, there’s no reason to assume the worst if he doesn’t. He’ll more than likely make up for lost sleep at a later time. A comfortable travel stroller may be the key to family vacation success here, allowing him get the extra zzz’s he needs when he needs them without slowing you down (see recommended travel strollers here). For more help, see Changes in Nighttime Sleeping Routines and Changes in Naptime Sleeping Routines in Chapter 5 of Travels with Baby.

FEEDING & EATING – Unpredictable babies may not always nurse or feed as much as expected when bottle or breast are first offered, and requests for more at unexpected times may be easily confused with other needs (he’s just over-tired, or maybe she’s teething?). As he grows, his unpredictable appetite means that he may not eat enough at formal mealtimes to carry him through the day’s activities. In fact, in restaurants, it may be wise to offer him part of your meal rather than paying for a child’s meal that may sit untouched (accept the doggie bags with grace). If his eating schedule does differ from yours, remind yourself that he may be feeling hungry at times when you are not, and always be sure to carry some snacks with you to fend off the blood sugar blues, even when least expected. Accommodations with kitchens, or at least refrigerators, can help meet his varying needs for food (my “unpredictable” does well with a bowl of cereal or other snack at bedtime to help round out missed calories during the day). More tips on Changes in Eating & Feeding Routines in Travels with Baby.

The deluxe “Piddle Pad ” offers extra cush for the tush and peace of mind for the traveling parent.

DIAPERING & POTTY TRAINING – Because his elimination process may “ebb and flow,” always keep back-up clothing in the carry-on or diaper bag–and a change for those who often hold or carry him. Also consider purchasing an extra car seat cover or the Piddle Pad . Accidents are more likely during the potty-training era for this child, so plan and pack accordingly (see Changes in Potty Training Routines recommendations and advice in Chapter 5 of Travels with Baby). In event of any surprises, it will feel like much less of a problem if you choose accommodations where you’ll have easy access to laundry.

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More tips and advice are on the way! For help for planning travel of every kind–with babies and children of every temperament–in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler.

Read More from the Temperament and Travel Series:

Advice for Travel with a High-Energy Child

Advice for Travel with a Low-Energy Child

Advice for Travel with the Eager Child

Advice for Travel with the Cautious Child

Advice for Travel with the Very Regular Child

Advice for Travel with the Unpredictable Child

Advice for Travel with the Fast-Adapting Child

Advice for Travel with the Slow-Adapting Child

Advice for Travel with the Intense Child

Advice for Travel with the Mellow Child

Advice for Travel with the Highly Sensitive Child

Advice for Travel with the Low-Sensitivity Child

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Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks

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