Another holiday season is approaching and it gets so exciting with little ones in the home! I remember growing up just loving the holidays and taking in all of the festivities, but it really is magical to watch your children around the holidays. Colorful light displays, decorations in stores, smells in the home… all of these bring happiness and joy and it can be so contagious. With all of this excitement, try and ensure your baby gets the rest she needs to be happy, healthy and alert during this time to make it more enjoyable for everyone.
TIP 1. Don’t overschedule
One of the biggest mistakes I make around the holidays is trying to pack in as much fun and adventure as I did in my before kids days. This doesn’t usually spell fun at the end of the day anymore! Going ice skating, playdate for lunch, shopping in the afternoon and family visits in the evening can just be too much for littles.
Slow your pace down and learn to say no when you start to notice that nap times are being moved too often or bedtimes are becoming late. I call it being balanced… and it’s not easy during the holidays, especially if you are away from home. Plan your activities around your nap times (if they are predictable…), and you will be rewarded with a baby who is less fussy and easily consolable.
TIP 2. If you are not a co-sleeping family, now is not the time to start
If you will be travelling, borrow a play pen, rent a crib, ask family and friends, bring a bassinet along… You will find yourself with a big problem when you get home and put her back in the crib. Even a few nights of co-sleeping can create a habit, so if this is not something that you want to continue with, I would avoid doing this.
If you are a co-sleeping family, enjoy those early bedtimes together! You can even use it as an excuse if you have friends and family that want to keep you up late drinking holiday cheer and catching up. There is nothing better than a mom who gets extra sleep!
TIP 3. Bring your teddy, blanket, stuffie, lovey…
If your baby treasures something while sleeping, don’t forget it! Pack it along with some cotton, breathable pajamas to have that scent of home close by. If you will be planning a late night but not staying overnight, just put you baby to bed as usual where you are, and at an age appropriate time, then transfer her to her crib when you get home. You will not want to keep her up late but this is also a great time to have actual, non-interrupted conversations with friends (which can be so hard to come by these days!).
TIP 4. Preserve naps and bedtime
My children are the definition of meltdown if they go two days in a row with messed up naps and bedtime. So I don’t do it!
If you plan to travel, try to reserve the next day as catchup and focus on those crib naps and use an early bedtime to eliminate some crankiness. The occasional nap in the carseat or a later bedtime won’t do you too much harm, but several days in a row will start to wear your baby thin. Not only can your baby’s mood change drastically, he might start crying and forcefully refusing sleep, causing stress for everyone. There can be a lot of pressure with family around, so the consistency is worth the effort.
Tip 5. Relax. Enjoy. Make memories.
The holidays are about friends, family, love, laughter, kindness. If sleep is elusive in your home, don’t try and make changes while you travel. When the New Year hits, you will be in a much better place to start shaping your baby’s sleep. Watch my Facebook page for some great sleep tips and promotions in January to support your family!
Happy holidays from my family to yours!
Sleep Coach, Educator and Child Nutritionist