This is the time of year when many of our homes come alive with bright lights, music and festivities. Routines sometimes go out of the window, but we often overlook the impact that this can have on the quality of our children’s sleep.
Not all babies can sleep anywhere, so you may have to ensure you keep a relatively normal sleep routine in order so that things don’t become disastrous.
With just a few simple tips though it is possible to still have a great holiday with friends and family and a well-rested baby. Whilst its lovely to spend more time with relatives and friends, it can mean you get more ‘helpful advice’ than normal. Be confident in your parenting decisions and what works for your child
My top tips for coping with Christmas disruption:
Naps On The Go
- All naps count…. napping in buggy/car/sling is absolutely fine. This can make life easier if you are away from home. You may be tempted to skip naps as you are too busy or you might think that skipping naps will make them really tired and they will go to bed early.
- Let me warn you that the opposite may well be true.
- Most of the time if a child skips their normal nap, they will end up being really overtired at bedtime and find it much harder to fall asleep.
- Naps don’t need to be optional during the holidays. Keep the same nap routine that you usually have (or add an extra one as needed!)
- Don’t be afraid to stand your ground with well-meaning relatives – if you say baby needs their nap, they need their nap!
Feed More When Necessary
- It is very normal for smaller babies to want to feed more for comfort and reassurance in unfamiliar surroundings, or if they feel overstimulated – don’t be embarrassed or self-conscious about this.
Bring Their Sleep Environment To-Go
- When packing for a trip away or maybe just an afternoon get-together, don’t forget to include their bedroom in your suitcase eg bring you portable cot, black out blinds, sounds machine, favourite comforters.
- These will help make them comfortable in this new sleep environment, which will aid in a restorative nap or overnight sleep.
Flexible Consistent Routine
- Practice their consistent bedtime routine with them wherever you are and whenever you can.
- Doing the same events before nap time or bedtime that you do at home will bring the comfort and security of home along and help prepare your child for sleep no matter where you are.
- It can be tempting to all stay up later than usual at Christmas but try and stick to an age-appropriate bedtime and include some wind down time before hand in a low-lit room.
Offer Early Bedtime
- Babies and children can easily become overstimulated by their environment which can turn into overtiredness or tantrums.
- Try to stick to your little one’s regular bedtime or nap times to avoid this. However, with all the extra stimulation and excitement, you might find an earlier bedtime is needed some days, go with it!
Avoid Too Much Sugary Foods
- Be mindful of sugary foods, especially towards to the end of the day. Sugar is a stimulant and affect sleep.
- If your child has too many sweet treats and sugary snacks too close to bedtime it will give them a sugar rush. This will make it harder for them to fall asleep and can be followed by an energy crash which may make them wake up in the night.
Remember 80/20 rules
- We know how exciting and fun this time of year is, but don’t forget the 80/20 rules.
- What is that? It means that 80 per cent of the time you are keeping your child’s bedtime and naps on schedule and 20 per cent of the time you deviate a little because of circumstances (like holiday parties!).
- Don’t overuse the 80/20 rules and always go back to consistency as soon as you can.
- We all know babies sense their mum’s discomfort, so if you are becoming agitated or stressed, chances are your baby will feel that too.
- To them, you are their rock – their calm, loving, safe space. If you need to, take a few deep, soothing breaths to calm yourself or take some moments to yourself to help your baby feel safe and secure.
Save The Big Changes For The New Year
- Furthermore, I would not recommend that any parent works on their baby’s sleep at this special time of year as it is so busy and irregular.
- Unless the family are able to be home in time for the regular bedtime, will not be missing any day time sleeps and are not planning on staying away from home, it is not advised to try and enforce sleep changes during the festive period. Any of these changes will affect the efforts and may make it hard to establish different sleep practices.
Have Fun and be Merry!
Have a great holiday with your family and don’t stress out about every single sleep rule.
Even if new habits get picked up know that when Christmas is over and your day-to-day goes back to normal you can get back on track and focus on sleep again.