"All I want for Christmas... is a good nights sleep!"- so said almost every parent under the sun. Unfortunately babies live by their own schedule, and not ours! That's why its a great idea to make sure that your schedule is tweaked a little over the festive season- to save your sanity if nothing else! Here are some tips and tricks to perfecting your baby's routine over Christmas.
Stick to your usual routine
Most babies respond really well to a good sleep routine (for day time naps and night time sleep) and often prepare for sleep as soon as they recognise the sleep cues. For this reason, it's important to try and stick to your usual routine as much as you can. If you're away at Christmas, try to take familiar items (blankets, comforters etc) with you so that you can follow the bedtime routine as closely as possible. It might be tempting to do away with it all because you're on holiday, but remember that your baby doesn't know that, and is likely to become grumpy and tired very quickly!
But be flexible if you can
As much as we believe you need to stick to your usual routine over Christmas, we also think that you need to insert a little flexibility into it all too. Be prepared for a few slight time changes that can't be avoided, and don't stress if your routine becomes a little muddled for a day or two. As long as you can rescue it quickly, you will be fine.
Prepare for late nights
Preparation is key when it comes to tackling most things! Late nights are inevitable in some situations, especially if you're busy visiting friends and family this Christmas. If you know you're going to be out late, try taking pyjamas with you and checking ahead (if visiting friends, for example) that you can bath the baby before you leave. If you're facing long journeys it's likely that baby will sleep in the car- if this happens, perhaps skip the bath when you get in and go straight to the next step in your routine.
If baby does get to bed a little later than usual, be mindful of this the next day. Keep stimulation and activities to a minimum if you can, to avoid her becoming overtired too quickly.
Watch for sleep cues during busy days
Christmas can mean a lot of visiting, coming and going and new faces wanting to help make baby's Christmas special. This is lovely! But is can also mean that baby becomes tired a lot more quickly than usual. Throw in the bustle of excitement, the lights and the music, and you might find baby seems more unsettled than usual. Check for sleep cues (rubbing eyes, yawning, crying etc) and bring sleep times forward if you need to.
Watch your own routine
This one is for the adults. As already mentioned, babies have no idea that it's Christmas and even less of an idea that you might like a glass of sherry on Christmas Eve! While we hate to be a party pooper, if you know your baby is going to be up early on Christmas morning it might be an idea to stick to your own bedtime routine this year too. If you do stay up late, or have a later night here or there over the festive season, perhaps now is the time to arrange baby-sitters for the morning? Call it a unique Christmas gift opportunity! Otherwise, get to bed at a reasonable hour and you'll be much better equipped to deal with baby and the festivities.
Disruptions are temporary
If baby's routine does get disrupted (which can happen! ) then don't panic. Any disruptions are usually short lived and easily rectified. Make sure you decide when Christmas is officially 'over' and set that date as the time to get back on track. And be strict with the routine if you need to be; you might find baby responds well to being back on track too.
Don't let routine rule you
With all the best intentions in the world, it makes sense to strive for a sense of balance. Don't let baby's routine rule you so that you turn down all the party invitations of the season; pick and choose the ones that you feel are most important, or that will be the least disruptive. If you have to have a break from the routine then so be it. Like we said in the previous tip, disruptions are likely to pass quickly.
What are your top tips for surviving Christmas with a baby?