The holiday season is a magical time filled with joy, family gatherings, and twinkling lights. However, for parents with little ones, it can also bring challenges, especially when it comes to managing sleep routines. The excitement, change in schedules, and bustling activities can disrupt your child’s sleep patterns. Fear not, though, as I’ve compiled a list of top tips to help you navigate sleep for your little one’s sleep during this festive period.
1. Stick to your Routine:
The holiday season often brings disruptions to your usual daily routine. Nevertheless, since children thrive on consistency, aim to keep as close as possible to your child’s usual timings and routine. Anchor your day with their usually waking-up time, bedtime and mealtimes and everything in-between can be more flexible.
2. Create a Calming Bedtime Environment:
The festive season often involves bright lights, lots of people and loud celebrations, which can be overwhelming for children. Ensure your child’s sleeping environment remains calm and conducive to sleep. Dim the lights, use blackout curtains, and reduce noise levels to create a peaceful atmosphere.
With extra people in the house, it’s often easy to overlook your usual quality one-to-one time with your child. Consider incorporating a special moment into their bedtime routine, where you can create a cozy, intimate space together. Whether it’s reading a Christmas book together, having extra snuggles or engaging in a conversation about their day’s highlights, this help to create a calming, soothing, and relaxing conclusion to their day.
2. Plan Ahead for Late Nights:
Festive celebrations may extend past your child’s usual bedtime. If you are planning a late night, consider adjusting your little one’s sleep schedule that day to prevent overtiredness. This will look different depending on the age of your child. One option could be to add in an extra nap to bridge the gap between the last nap and the later bedtime. Another idea would be to plan your travel to coincide with their naps or provide an additional opportunity to sleep. If all else fails, allow for sleep catch-ups or an early bedtime the following day.
4. Limit Sugar and Caffeine Intake close to bedtime:
With holiday treats aplenty, it’s essential to be mindful of your child’s sugar and caffeine (chocolate) intake, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. A sugar rush can disrupt sleep and lead to hyperactivity and restlessness. Turkey, believe it or not, actually contains tryptophan which is a precursor to melatonin our natural sleep hormone so it’s a great food to be eating to promote sleep!
5. Encourage Physical Activity and Outdoor Time:
Help your little one use up energy by incorporating physical activities into your festive schedule. Whether it’s a family walk, dancing to holiday tunes or playing at the park, physical activity can mean that your little one is ready to sleep at bedtime. Getting outside for some fresh air will also help as daylight helps to regulate your natural body clock.
6. Be Mindful of Screen Time:
The allure of holiday movies or extra screen time to give yourself a break can be strong, but excessive screen time before bedtime can stop melatonin production which will interfere with sleep. Establish a screen-free wind-down period at least an hour before bedtime to allow your child’s brain to relax.
7. Offer Comfort and Reassurance:
The holiday season can bring about changes in routine and unfamiliar environments, which might make your child more anxious. Offer comfort and reassurance, whether through a favourite bedtime story, a cozy blanket, or a special bedtime routine. A sense of security can help your little one feel at ease and more likely to sleep well.
8. Travel Smart:
If your festive plans involve travel, try to create a sleep-conducive environment for your child. Bring along familiar items such as a favourite blanket or stuffed animal, and try to maintain some semblance of your regular bedtime routine even when away from home.
While the festive season can present sleep challenges for parents with little ones, a proactive approach and a bit of planning can go a long way. By prioritizing consistency, creating a calming environment, and being mindful of your child’s needs, you can help ensure that the holidays are not only joyful but also restful for your little one. Enjoy!
I love helping exhausted parents with children who struggle to sleep by sharing gentle, loving and responsive sleep solutions that benefit the whole family. If you would like personalised advice and support, please get in touch with me or head over to my Facebook or Instagram pages for regular sleep tips and advice.