Baby Sleep Tips for the Festive Season

Are you worried about how your baby will react to traveling and a change of routine over the festive season? We have packed this blog post with top tips from some of our fabulous baby sleep consultants that we work with.

We hope it makes your holiday season easier.

 

Maggie Moore from Get Moore Sleep shares her tips with us.

With so many people to visit, travel during the holidays can be tough. Between the travel and trying to fit in as much family time as possible, it may seem like your little one’s schedule, along with the consistency you work so hard to maintain, is simply being tossed out to the wind. As a parent, that part of the holidays can be SO frustrating and very stressful to navigate. But fear not! There IS a way to navigate Thanksgiving and still adhere to the familiar and consistent schedule your family has established.

Have a great routine

One of the best parts of establishing a consistent and predictable bedtime and naptime routine is that it travels nicely. Whether you plan to stay at home, visit Aunt Sally’s, or take a trip to the moon for Thanksgiving – the repetition and cues you have built into your routine will never serve you more than they will while traveling for the holidays. Observing the same bedtime routine while away from home will trigger those cues to kick in, making it so much easier for your young one to go to sleep.

Remember, nap routines should be about 15 minutes, while bedtime routines should be about 30 minutes. For children over the age of 16-weeks, we do not want these routines to end in a feed!

 Be firm but polite

Frequently, extended family has a hard time understanding why little ones are on a strict schedule and have to go to sleep early. Having those conversations can be incredibly stressful and a bit tricky. The best option is to address them upfront. Identify the family members you feel might question or give you a hard time about your child’s schedule, pull them aside, and talk to them ahead of time. Explain that you have worked hard to have a great sleeper. Remind them that the baby won’t remember Thanksgiving at this age and tell them how important sleep is for healthy development. Having the conversation ahead of time should ease some of the tension during the travel.

Remember, they don’t have to agree with your decision about baby sleep, but they do have to respect it.

Sharing a Room?

If you aren’t used to sharing a room with your little one, having to do so on Thanksgiving can be anxiety-producing. However, you need to keep in mind that your little one will most likely be going to bed well before parents. Remember to take something to darken the room or Pack N' Play and a sound machine is a good idea as well. This will help drown out any noise from the rest of the house while the family is visiting, or when a parent needs to enter the room.

The first thing you should do when arriving at your destination is to set up the room where your child will be sleeping. This will help you feel less rushed when bedtime comes! It isn’t unusual for a little one to wake more frequently when visiting a new place. Try to be as consistent as possible in how you handle wakeups when away and at home. If bad habits are formed while you are away, be sure to leave them behind when you leave. Bringing those habits home with you can cause a regression!

Establishing a plan, along with open communication with family about your child’s sleep, is the best way to make sure the Thanksgiving holiday is stress-free and fun for everyone!

 

Here are some tips from Andi Meltzer Sleep Consulting

Don’t over-schedule.

The biggest mistake parents make is that they over-schedule themselves. They try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might normally have had back in their “child-free” days, forgetting an important fact: They have a child now.

Don’t pack in 3 fun-filled activities a day. Nobody is going to have a fun evening if your child is melting down at 5pm.

Don’t forgo the naps.

An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime probably isn’t going to do too much harm, but if your baby spends a couple of days taking car seat naps here and there and having late bedtimes, she may become so overtired that by the time bedtime rolls around on day two, she has a complete meltdown and seems to “forget” all her sleep skills and just cries the house down.

If that happens, you might start to get very nervous because (a) your baby, who has been happily chatting herself to sleep for weeks, is now crying again, and (b) your mother-in-law is standing outside the door repeatedly asking you if you’re sure the baby is okay. You may start to give in to this pressure and bend your expectations for your baby’s sleep. It’s easy to see how you could revert back to your own familiar ways in no time if you gave in to this pressure and fear.

Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket!

Bringing your baby's favorite lovey or blanket is going make drifting off to sleep in an unfamiliar place much easier. They will feel more comfortable and secure with the familiarity of a toy or blanket.

If you’re not a bedsharing family, don’t start now.

Another big mistake parents make is to bed share with their baby or toddler while traveling. Even it’s it is only for a few nights, if your baby decides this is her new preferred location, you could find yourself starting all over again when you get home.

 

Nicole Johnson from The Baby Sleep Site 

Add music to your routine

You might consider adding a specific baby sleep CD to your routines now before you travel so that you can play it at your location, and your baby will associate it with sleep, even when you aren’t at home.

Your scent on a blanket

Depending on the age of your baby, you may want to sleep on a receiving blanket so it smells like you and give it to your baby when she sleeps. Your scent will help her feel you near, even if you are in another room.

Stay Active

Newborns wake up every few hours for a feed but after about 3 months, they get used to sleeping for 6-8 hours at night. If your baby has been napping throughout the day, he will find it tougher to fall asleep in a new environment at night. Stay active throughout the day and limit nap time so that by the end of the day, he’s ready for bed. You can also play active games with your baby during the early hours of the evening. Dangle a soft rattle over him so that he keeps trying to grab it. This will not only help him stay active but also improve his motor skills.

Missed nap

If you have to choose between a missed morning nap or missed afternoon nap, opt for a missed afternoon nap PLUS an early bedtime (if possible). The morning nap usually sets the mood for the rest of the day. An overtired baby in the morning typically plagues you the rest of the day and night.

Start now

If you are trying to decide whether you should start sleep training now or after the holidays, we generally recommend going ahead and getting started. In a week’s time, you will have a good handle of how things are going. You can always opt for a break, but if things go well, all the better to enjoy the holidays! We know a lot of families have time off around the holidays, so it’s best to use them to the fullest and give your baby the gift of sleep.

 

We hope these expert tips help your little one to settle and sleep well over this busy time of year.

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