With Christmas around the corner, I have had lots of parents asking me how they can help to ensure their little ones sleep well over the festive period. I love Christmas but it often comes with coughs/colds, over stimulation (lights, music & parties), sugar highs (and lows !) as well as a disruption to the routine. So what can we do to try and keep sleep on track?
All babies and children thrive on routine and consistency so if you can, stick to it BUT don’t panic if you can’t. If you can’t then try to make up for any less sleep or more disturbed nights by having subsequent nights as early nights and/or pre-planning and getting in some early nights and good naps before the busy period begins. A well rested child can adapted to any changes much easier than an overtired child.
Plan your travel around naps and have somewhere for them to sleep if you are out for the day e.g. pram/baby carrier.
Sleeping away from home
Don’t expect your little one to sleep exactly the same as they do at home (great if they do) but it can be hard for all of us to sleep in unfamiliar environments so expect to provide them with more support. Take sleep comforts with you, such as a comforter/teddy; familiar bedtime story, white noise machine/app; familiar smelling bedding as these can all help your little one feel more safe and secure at bedtime.
Staying Out Late
If you plan to stay out past their bedtime, put them to bed wherever you are (this could be in a pram or travel cot) and transfer them to the car. If they wake up when you arrive home and seem WIDE awake, have a little ‘down’ time and then start your usual bedtime routine.
Minimise Sugar Before Bedtime
Some children are more susceptible to this than others .If my daughter has sugar anywhere close to bedtime she is like a cat on red bull! My advice is no sugar after dinner. If they are or ‘claim’ to be hungry offer a snack such as humus on toast or porridge.
You Know Your Child Best Of All
Don’t be afraid to insist on making plans to accommodate your child’s sleep needs. You will know best if they are going to be a total grouch without a nap.
This is inevitable but try to plan in some down time, ideally before you start the bedtime routine.
Everyone loves a Christmas film but do make sure you get out and about during the day. Fresh air, natural light and exercise does wonders for sleep and mental health.
Holiday Sleep Habits Stay on Holiday
Don’t bring any holiday sleep habits back with you that you don’t want to continue. Sometimes it is easier and gets everyone more sleep to have ‘different sleep rules’ while you are away. Don’t worry about this, just be strong when you get back home if you decide you don’t want to continue these. But remember there are NO BAD SLEEP HABITS! Do what works for you and yours.
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