The holiday season is over. The presents have been opened, the treats have been eaten and you’ve made your new year resolutions. Holidays can be fun and exciting but they can also cause your family’s usual routines to be forgotten and your little one’s sleep to be rather erratic. If this has happened to you and you are wondering about how to get sleep back on track and implement some healthy sleep habits for this year, here are four helpful tips:
1. Focus on your bedtime routine
This might sound really boring but it really is the best place to start. I can’t stress enough how important a peaceful and predictable bedtime routine is for children of all ages. Introducing (or reintroducing) a consistent bedtime routine is vital after a period of disruption. It makes children feel safe and secure and helps them know what to expect. For toddlers and pre-schoolers using a bedtime routine chart can be a helpful reminder of what is going to happen and what the expectations are. Get some good bedtime stories and enjoy snuggling up together.
2. Prioritise daytime sleep
Over the holidays it’s easy for your little one to miss naps or have shorter naps. Perhaps you’ve been staying with family and your baby resisted going down for their naps with all the excitement around them. Start prioritising your little one’s naps and take a few days to focus on getting naps back to where they should be. Be consistent with this and you will reap the rewards. Check out this nap guide for how much day sleep your little one should be getting.
If your little one has become resistant to napping in the cot, just help the nap happen in any way possible to begin with. A nap in the car, pushchair or even a contact nap is just as restorative and could be a short term solution to help establish a napping rhythm. If a nap is not achievable, try to encourage a quiet time instead.
3. Remember the basics
What happens in the daytime really does impact the night. Babies need lots of fresh air, exercise and good nutrition. Natural light helps to reset our internal body clock. Spending more time outside will help to regulate sleeping patterns and ensure children are burning off excess energy. Even younger babies need a chance to move their bodies. Think rolling, crawling, tummy time, reaching and stretching.
4. Return to predictable routines
Lastly, the most important thing that you can do to get back into a predictable routine is to start your day at the same time every day. Decide what time this will be (bearing in mind that most babies only need 10-11 hours sleep at night) and stick to it. If your baby is awake before this, keep it dark and quiet and treat it as a night time wake. Also, if your baby has had a disturbed night and is still asleep at the morning wake-up time, you will need to gently wake them up. Doing this is an important part of getting your baby’s body clock back into the swing of things. Allowing your child to sleep later will have a knock-on effect on that day’s naps and bedtime and the chaotic cycle will continue.
It’s important to remember that great sleep doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time to build in healthy sleep habits and predictable routines. The good news is that if your little one was sleeping well before, they will soon be back on track with their usual routine. However, if you are struggling with sleep or unsustainable sleep associations and are looking to improve your little one’s sleep in a gentle and responsive way please feel free to get in touch.