Top 3 Tips for Travel with a Picky Sleeper

Traveling with a picky sleeper - Erica Parachini for Nesting Story

For the first time since my son was 4 months old and in the throes of colic, we decided to take a family vacation to Montana. To give you a bit of a backstory my son has suffered from sleep issues from the minute he took his first breath. He refused to sleep unless it was on my chest and napped in my arms for the first year. Once he hit 13 months a miracle happened and he started sleeping 3 hours during the day and 12 hours at night! He is now 15 months old and is in the most perfect routine for sleep BUT he is very picky about his sleeping situation. If he was such an amazing sleeper at home why couldn’t we take him on vacation?

In order for us to survive the nights and not completely start fresh on a new routine once our trip commenced, we were determined to keep sleep as normal as we possibly could for him. Here are my tips for surviving travel with a picky sleeper!

1. Recreate the Sleeping Environment.

The garbage bag trick

Use Blackout Shades. My son sleeps in total darkness. I’m talking you cannot see your hand in front of your face darkness. Your standard “Blackout shades” don’t cut it seeing that we had to cut any source of glimmer out of his room in order for him to not be distracted by it. The Trash Bag Trick works wonders! I found that using 50-gallon black trash bags doubled up blocked out 100% of the incoming light of the room that I was attempting to blackout. I used double sided removable stickers to line the outline of the window and was able to secure the garbage bags without any gaps between the window. These are removable pads as well which make removal a breeze!

Make your own Suction Cup Blackout Shades to help your picky sleeper

Make your own Suction Cup Blackout Shades. I found these on Amazon and they have been a staple in our sleeping routine since I discovered the need for total darkness sleep! They have Velcro around the sides so they can be customized to fit your window and suction cup to the edges to seal the light out completely.

Use blackout shades

Invest in a Travel Mattress. Let’s face it, Pack n’ Plays pads are not crib mattresses, and a picky sleeper knows the difference! We ordered a mattress the size of the play yard and a fitted sheet. Both fold for travel and this extra effort gave our son the added comfort of home in an unfamiliar environment.

Pack It All. We brought our sound machine, video monitor, sleep sack, lovey and everything necessary for his bedtime routine. For us this includes a bath, reading time in dim light and then in bed to sooth himself to sleep.

2. Determine the Prime Sleeping Location:

Just because you’re sharing a hotel room doesn’t mean you have to share sleeping spaces! There are many options for sleeping locations if you dare to get creative! For us, it ended up being a guest bathroom with a small window. The window was easy to blackout and the pack n play that he slept in was near an outlet for the monitor and sound machine to be close by. You can set up a bedroom in a hotel bathroom, a large walk in closet or if needed you can set it up in the corner of a mutual room. I like separating my child’s sleeping environment from ours so that we can comfortably stay up after bedtime and relax without fear of waking our toddler.

3. Stick to Your Routine:

Stay on Schedule. As tempting as it may be to stay out exploring or spend extra time visiting, sticking to your schedule is vital. A late night here and there or a missed nap once or twice isn’t enough to ruin your baby’s routine forever but if you spend your trip off routine it’s going to be a lot harder to regain your schedule once you return.

Traveling with a picky sleeper - Erica Parachini for Nesting Story

Don’t Skip Naptime. If you baby sleeps well in the car try to do your car travel during prime nap times after wearing them out. If your baby doesn’t (like mine) plan to be at your temporary home during naptime to have the best chance of sticking to your schedule.

Traveling with a picky sleeper can be daunting but with these tips you’ll be able to keep your child on their schedule and keep your sanity when you return home! What’s your favourite travel tip for traveling with littles?

Erica Parachini is a writer and creator of Made At Home Mom Life, a supportive community empowering mothers to feel more at home in their motherhood. You can also check out more from Erica and “Baby H” on Instagram.

5 Sleep Tips For Your Newborn – The First Four Months

mother and newborn sleeping

This is a special guest post by Jamie Contarini, a certified sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site, Halton

After having your baby, the first few months can be exhausting and frustrating and exciting all at the same time. A baby’s sleep schedule is often unorganized and chaotic because her biological sleep rhythms are still maturing. You might do the exact same thing two days in a row and get completely different results. I understand the concern about creating bad habits, but right now you only need to make sure that your baby is well rested and well fed. Here are 5 tips for navigating through sleep during the first four months.

1. Be Safe. Always remember the “A,B,C’s of safe sleep”. Babies should sleep Alone, on their Back’s in their Crib (or bassinet).

Room sharing is safer than bed sharing and your baby will have some time to practice sleeping in her own space with you in the room.

2. Organize Day from Night. Open those blinds wide and get outside during the day. Expose your baby to a lot of sunlight during wake time and then make it dark when it is time to sleep (for naps, unless you are out, and at bedtime). During the night, keep interactions to a minimum when you can. Feed her, change her, give her some snuggles and help her fall back to sleep. Keep the chatting to a minimum (even though you just want to tell her how cute she is), this is a great habit to get into and it will help in the next month or so when her sleep becomes more organized.

3. Keep Short intervals of Wakefulness. Newborn babies sleep a lot – they can sleep 14-18+ hours and it can come in varying chunks throughout the day and night. A newborn can really only handle a wake time of between 30-90 minutes before needing sleep, and it might be a short nap, but sleep is sleep at this age. Watch the clock and help her if you need to. Most newborns can fall asleep anywhere, in a carrier, stroller, in the bassinet etc., so you can take advantage of this mobility and get out of the house when you are feeling up to it.

Closer to 2-4 months, her wakefulness periods will lengthen to 45-90 minutes, but you might find it harder for her to fall asleep. She is taking in the world and doesn’t recognize when she needs to sleep, so you need to watch the clock and watch her for her “tired cues”. What are some of the signs to watch for? She might start turning her head side to side (resisting sleep), rubbing her eyes or pulling on her ears.

I am sure you have received or you will receive the advice that you should keep your baby awake during the day so that she will sleep better at night – don’t do it!! An overtired baby has a harder time falling and staying asleep. Sleep begets sleep.

4. Practice and Playtime in the Crib. If you are not using the crib right away, then between 2 & 4 months, start giving your baby a chance to get used to it. It is important for her to have a consistent sleeping place and a space that is all hers. You love your bed, being able to stretch out and sleep however you want – she will get to that point too. If you still want her to sleep at arms reach near you for the night (in a bassinet or playpen etc), then offer naps in the crib. You can set up the crib in your master bedroom if you want to – just give her a chance to spend some time in it.

5. Soothing Routine. It is never too early to start your bedtime routine. Similar activities each night is going to send a cue her brain that sleep is coming next. What should be included in your routine? Change her diaper, put her into her pj’s and sleep sack or swaddle and then feed her. You can sing a song, or read a book, rock with her and cuddle – you can combine any number of these. Your routine does not have to be too long, and if you notice that she is getting fussy or turning away from the book then close it and get her into bed. At this point you are calming her and letting her know that it is time for sleep. If she is falling asleep during your routine then you can skip to the end and get her into bed.

Once you finish you routine (approximately 10-15 minutes) put her into her crib or bassinet and offer her the chance to drift off to sleep on her own. If, at the end of your routine she is upset and crying, you can help her sleep. There are no rules at this point other than our safety rule listed above.

After 4 months (calculated from her estimated due date) then you can let her work at falling asleep on her own for nights and naps, but right now, she might need some extra help, and you might enjoy the extra cuddles!

Bio: Jamie is a certified sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site Halton. Proud Mama of two boys. Jamie realized that her interest in helping change some of her son’s sleep habits actually turned into a passion and she happily joined the Good Night team with her mission being to help families succeed as she did.

 When she is not working, Jamie enjoys family time with her husband, sons and golden retriever.


What I Do To Reduce My Daily Stress

IMG_3378I never truly knew what stress felt like until I became a mother. Some days it’s the little things that get to me, like the stress of getting everyone out the door. Other days its the bigger things like health issues with my kids.

Over the years I have learned that I needed to work a few stress-reducing routines into my day, everyday, to keep myself happy and healthy.

Here are some ways I reduce my stress each day…

I work out. Rarely a day goes by that I miss my mini workout. I find taking those twenty minutes each morning to stretch and resistance-train sets the tone for the day. I know I have done something for myself, and feel stronger throughout the day.IMG_3335

I have a beauty regime. For a long time I would throw sweats, a sports bra and t-shirt on, maybe wash my face, brush my teeth and put my hair in a ponytail and get on with my day. First it was when I was doing the SAHM thing, then it was when I was working from home. I finally realized that doing this was not only making me unhappy, but I was gaining a little weight too.

Now, I take the time each day to shower, (I only wash my hair every three days, let’s not get ahead of ourselves), wear nicer clothes (including jeans) and a proper bra, and put some makeup on. This beauty regime not only helps me keep the weight off, but also reduces my stress.


I rest and have a treat each day. Every single day, around 2 p.m., after I’ve had my lunch, I stop working, doing housework, or even playing with my kids and have what I call “mommy’s quiet time.” This is when our twins are napping, so I am able to protect this time each day. On the weekends I send our older kids to their rooms for their own quiet time, and often send my husband out to run errands, or he heads out to the gym.

I make myself a coffee, grab a sweet treat and cozy-up under a blanket on the couch and watch whatever TV show I am currently binging on for about 45 minutes. I will often doze off and take a quick nap. Doing this for myself each day is probably this biggest way I reduce my stress and reset myself. I am very protective of this time, and my entire family knows that I am always more patient and happy afterwards.

I go to bed early. I am very protective of my sleep. I always have been. I am a morning person and need to get to bed by 10 p.m. and be asleep before 11 p.m. to make the most of my early morning wake-up.

Doing this has many benefits. I stay healthy (even when my kids are sick), I fight off stress, I am less likely to eat unhealthy and am generally more happy.

Since April is Stress Awareness Month, Nesting Story has teamed up with Casper, the sleep startup that created the perfect mattress, sheets and pillow for everyone. Here is Casper’s napping guide 101, that shares different types of naps and even some reasons why you might need a nap (as if you really need a reason). Visit to learn more about their mattresses and sheets.Casper Napping101_LRG

This post was sponsored by Casper. All opinions are my own.

20 Tricks, Items And Life Hacks That Make Life Easier With New Twins

This is NOT a sponsored post, I just really like these items
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Twins nursery-90 cribs names

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1. Use toy straps to assign each car seat.  I always loved using the the Pippalily Toy Strap with my older kids to keep Sophie in place but I attached different straps to each car seat before our girls were born.  Thankfully I did!  Our girls are fraternal twins and completely different lengths which means their car seat straps are at different levels and they can’t swap car seats.

2. Get a high chair that you can tilt back.  I’ve always started using our Peg Perego Prima Pappa Diner high chair way before our babies were ready to eat solids.  I have found it so handy to put our twins in their’s reclined so they can watch me while I prepare meals in our kitchen.

3. Invest in a twin size diaper bag.  I had a very hard time convincing my husband that we needed to replace our standard size diaper bag with a larger one made for twins while I was pregnant with our girls.  Thankfully my incredible mommy friends pitched in and bought me the Patunia Pickle Bottom Abundance Boxy Backpack – my dream diaper bag!  We don’t know what we would do without a bigger bag today!  Don’t worry there are also some more budget friendly options too, like the Skip Hop Dual Double Diaper Bag.

4. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  This is a rule in our home.  Whoever is crying gets the attention first.  Because you are not an octopus and don’t have eight arms there will be many times you have to see to one twin while the other one waits.  Pick whoever is fussiest to see to them first.  Twins tend to be very patient babies because they learn to wait their turn from a very early age.

5. Assign cribs with each twin’s name.  While pregnant with our twins I debated if I should add  each twin’s initial or name to the decor over their crib and in the end decided to go for a pretty decal.  Although I did it for aesthetic reasons at first, it sure has come in handy.  Not only is it helpful for others to know who goes where but on more than one occasion I have sleepily almost put a twin in the wrong crib only to look up to read the name and remember which baby I was holding before correcting myself… oh sleep deprivation, the mean games you play on me!

6. A Blender Bottle makes for great formula storage.  You know those protein shake Blender Bottles that are collecting dust in your cupboard because you don’t have time to work out anymore?  Well thanks to my husband’s genius idea (yes honey I am giving you credit) they are great for pre-making a batch of baby formula to have stored in your fridge.  We will make up two jugs the night before and it saves so much time the next day.

7. Use a pacifier that will stay put.  I am a pacifier believer.  When our twin’s pacifiers kept falling out when they were teeny tiny I found it was very frustrating putting them back in all the time because I was having to do it twice as much.  Solution: WubbaNub pacifiers.  They have a stuffed animal on the end that weighs it down and you can tuck into under their swaddler blanket to hold it in place.IMG_1509

8. Use a small white board to let people know what they can help with.  We initially had a white board in our kitchen to record the twin’s feedings but I quickly added a section with a list of chores that family members and guests could help with.  You will probably have so many visitors wanting to pitch in and help, but when you are so busy and sleep deprived it can be a little hard to delegate.  Take a minute each day to write a list on the board and just direct your guests to that list.  For example: empty the dishwasher, play with the older kids, fold baby’s laundry, walk the dog etc…

9.  Only do baths every few days and sponge baths in between.  Bathing 2 babies is an exhausting and time consuming task.  Don’t worry about bathing them every day.  Today I still only give our six month old twins baths every 3 or 4 days.  I get a wet warm cloth and soap and wash their faces, necks and hands every day (bottoms are cleaned every diaper change) and then give them a full bath a couple times a week.  Trust me, your back will thank you.

10. Buy two Boppy Pillows.  When you have twins Boppy Pillows quickly become that extra set of arms you don’t have.  They can help hold a baby when tandem feeding, assist your little ones when learning to sit and even help with tummy time.

11. MamaRoos, better than a nanny.  When we had our older kids we used those massive swings that were battery operated.  One day I watched in awe as my friend placed her swaddled newborn into this pod-like machine from the future.  The MamaRoo is almost a better helper than your husband… I said ALMOST!  They are sleek, can be reclined or sit up-right, you can plug your iPod into it to play your music, or you can listed to the sound machine built in.  You can set the speed or type of motion, like a car-ride for example.  It also has a small foot print and plugs into the wall for power so no worrying about replacing the batteries… amazing!

12. Assign a colour to each twin.  Before our twins were born I started to sort out who would get what and I found it very helpful to assign a colour to each of them.  Things like pacifiers and pacifier clips would typically come in packs of purple and pink, so Everly got purple and Mia got pink.  It even worked well with the toy straps identifying their car seats.  This would also work well for boys with green and blue.

13. Designate a laundry area.  There’s a good chance that you will never again have every piece of laundry washed, folded and put away.  Or at least not in the near future.  I have sacrificed our dining room table for our laundry area.  This way it is all in one spot and not on the floor in piles.  When you have a family member wanting to pitch in and help fold laundry you can direct them to that area and let them get to work.

14. Wake the sleeping baby.  Contradictory to the rule don’t wake a sleeping baby, when you have two you have to throw that rule out the window.  I would recommend waking the sleeping baby at night so you can get everyone fed at once.  Any night I haven’t done that I am kicking myself an hour later when I am up once again.  I let our girls nap off of each other’s schedules during the day but get them back onto the same schedule for nighttime.

15. Get a small portable bottle cooler.  Anytime we know we are going to be out longer than a quick trip to the store, I pack two large full bottles in the diaper bag  and then one of the Blender Bottles in the cooler for refills.  This works very well instead of packing six separate bottles. The JJ Cole Collections cooler is a great option.

16. Use cloth bibs to reduce your laundry.  We have been blessed with four spitter-uppers… insert sarcasm.  I swap out dirty cloth bibs every couple hours instead of getting into the big process of changing them constantly.  This also reduces my dirty laundry pile significantly.

17. Keep an open buttonless sweater where you nurse your twins at night.  Because it is a lot easier to tandem nurse while topless it is nice to have sweater to throw on to stay warm.  A comfortable knit that is open at the front is a perfect option.  Try to find one that is buttonless so you are not having to worry about hard buttons pressing against your little one’s faces.  This open front sweater from Old Navy would be an ideal option.

18.  Call ahead to organize parking arrangements.  It is daunting enough trying to get out of the house with your newborn twins without help and the last thing you need is to arrive at your friend’s house and realize there is no room in their driveway or no parking spot close to their home.  Call ahead and ask them to leave a space for you and to help you bring everyone and everything in.  That little phone call makes a HUGE difference.

19. Set up a second change station near your kitchen.  If your twin’s nursery is upstairs it makes life so much easier to set up a second change station near the busiest part of your home: the kitchen.  Keep some extra outfits, bibs and lots of diapers there.  This is a sanity saver.

20. Don’t forget, your twins can help soothe each other.  Right from day one I have noticed a special bond between our girls.  If one is being a little fussy try laying her/him down right next to her/his brother/sister with their bodies touching.  You may be surprised.  Their breathing slows and they become very peaceful.


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