Between holiday parties, family dinners, visitors, sweets, anticipation, and travel, December can be full of excitement and joy. It’s also a common time for children’s sleep to get off track. Here are 8 tips to help you maintain your sanity throughout the season and to combat sleep challenges.
1. Keep to your child’s schedule as much as possible. Maintaining naps and bedtime is ideal. If your child gets overtired from missing a nap or going to bed too late, it may make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night until morning. Many children will wake up earlier if they are overtired at bedtime.
2. Be your child’s secure base. Visiting with family and friends whether in your home or a new place can be overwhelming and overstimulating for a child. Especially if they are being passed around or expected to hug or kiss everyone in the room. If your child is fussy, keeping them close to you can help. And be sensitive to the fact that they may need to check in with you frequently to feel safe and secure and manage all of the excitement.
3. Catch up the next day. It may be impossible to keep to your schedule through the holidays. If you get off track consider giving your child an extra nap the next day. If little Ava wakes up extra early you might try a short cat nap in the morning when she is tired. A 10-20 minute cat nap at 7-8am might be just enough to ensure she is not overtired at her regular nap time and make sure that her last nap doesn’t end too early in the afternoon. At the end of the day if she is not going to make it to bedtime you can try a cat nap between 4 and 4:30pm, or an earlier bedtime.
4. Have naps on the go. If you are out and about during the day, do what you can to maintain naps. If Billy is not awake too long during the day and sleeps for at least 45 minutes at a time, even if it is in the car, stroller, sling, or swing, then he is more likely to sleep well at night.
5. Maintain your bedtime rituals. With all the excitement, bedtime routines are more important than ever. Make sure you take the time to connect with your child, relax yourself, and download that calm and peace into your child. Your bedtime rituals will give your child a feeling that all is safe and wonderful in his world so he can rest and let sleep happen.
6. Create a Sleep Sanctuary. If you are sleeping away from home do what you can to create a familiar sleep environment for your child. If your child sleeps in a dark room with white noise at home, don’t forget some garbage bags for the windows and a sound therapy machine or download. You can also bring along a pair of unwashed sheets, comfy pajamas and a favourite blanket or stuffed animal, so your child’s borrowed bed smells, feels, sounds, and looks like home.
7. Give yourself a break. Sleeping away from home can be challenging and you may find yourself needing to make concessions in order to maximize sleep for yourself and all the others within ear shot. Try to avoid reintroducing old habits and adding additional feeds at night that were not previously needed so it will be easier to get back on track when you return home. Try to comfort your child in her bed first or try moving the crib up against your bed and lying beside him before resorting to co-sleeping if it is not in your long term plans.
8. Get back on track once home. If you do get off track during your trip, try to get back on track as soon as you can once you are home. You may need to re-teach your child to sleep. The sooner you get back on track the more likely your child will remember the sleep habits they had before they left. Sometimes children will fall right back into routines when they get home. If this doesn’t happen then you might need to implement a sleep coaching plan. It’s important to have a sleep plan that encompasses basic sleep steps, tools for success, and a coaching method that you are comfortable with. If you previously used a sleep plan you can start back with night 1 if necessary. Often recoaching is shorter than the initial sleep coaching.
Feel free to contact us if you need some support with this.
We wish you a wonderful holiday season full of joy and love!
KinderSleep has partnered with The Child Sleep Institute to offer a special package this holiday season. The Gift of Sleep program offers gentle, supportive solutions for better sleep at a great price. This program makes a great gift for a loved one or for YOU!