The holidays are a wonderful time of year. And while the fun of holiday gifts, treats, parties and family time is certainly exciting, I know exactly what a lot of parents are thinking: “how are these late nights, schedule disruptions and long days going to affect my baby’s sleep?” So in preparation for the coming weeks here are some of the common sleep topics and relevant tips:
Schedules and Routines
As a parent and a sleep coach I like routines. Not rigid, hard fast schedules but routines that provide a flexible yet consistent rhythm. The ideal routine is often not possible during the holidays or while traveling but trying your best to follow your normal routine will keep things more manageable.
Knowing that your child will be staying up late and will be exposed to extra stimulation (grandma, toys galore and treats!) make sure your child is at least offered naps. Naps will be imperative for the young baby who still naps on a daily basis, but also important to those older toddlers don’t always nap. With a busy schedule, they may be interested in some quiet time, so give them the opportunity! Talk to your family and find a quiet, dark place that your child can nap during your holiday visit.
Once the holidays are over return to your child’s normal flexible schedule as soon as possible. It will take some time to refill the sleep tank, so a couple extra naps or early bedtimes might be required. You may also find that some re-coaching might be necessary if you are off track for too many days.
Whether travelling for a few days or spending on long day at a relative’s home, it is important to think ahead. Where will your baby sleep? Taking along a pack-and-play or a Moses basket for a newborn could be the best idea. No need to negotiate unsafe sleep environments while at a family gathering. Bring along a sheet from home for a familiar scent; your child’s favourite lovey for some familiar comfort; bedtime books to keep your routine as “normal” as possible; and if you use it at home, don’t forget the white noise machine.
If you are away for a few days setting up a consistent sleep space is comforting and will help your routine remain as close to normal as possible.
Holiday plans can destroy a nap schedule, leading to short naps or no naps! I’ve been there! If you try your best to stick to your normal routine you will more likely have a successful nap time. Try to prioritize sleep. This might mean arriving late to a party or getting a nap in during a car or stroller ride. Yes, motion sleep is better than no sleep!
It’s important to remember that our children are not mini adults. The endless days of feasts and gatherings are a lot for their little bodies to handle. Giving them the opportunity to is important but you may also want to consider what they are doing while awake. Some babies just don’t do well in noisy environments, so consider stepping away and giving your baby some time away from the overstimulation. Go to a quiet room for some quiet time. Quiet time also doesn’t have to be with mom or dad – this could be a great time for grandma to spend time with baby! Avoiding a total meltdown will help keep naps on track and bedtime more manageable.
Even if you take every possible precaution and plan it all out, there is still a good chance that your baby or toddler just isn’t going to sleep as well as they normally do. Such is the reality of children. So be prepared to be flexible and to make the best of whatever comes. Enjoy the family time, take a lot of pictures and make holiday memories to last a life time.
Family Bliss is a Pediatric Sleep Coaching Practice offering sleep coaching for your infant, toddler or child up to 6 years of age. At Family Bliss we offer families the education and emotional support to coach your child to learn how to sleep on their own. All sleep plans are uniquely designed to meet the dynamics of your specific family.
Call today for a FREE 15 minute consultation and start your path to your family bliss!