Holiday time is upon us, Moms! Let the planning, gift buying, traveling, holiday parties, and festive Family & Friend Fun begin. Even though the holiday season can be chaotic, managing your child’s sleep does not have to be!
Traveling for the holidays?Whether taking a road trip or hopping on a flight, you can still keep naps on track without sacrificing sleep at night!
For children still on a multi-nap schedule, it’s important to note that the first nap of the day tends to be the easiest, longest, and sets the sleep tone for the rest of the day. Therefore, if you will be traveling in the car, I recommend that first nap happens in a crib before heading out. With the remaining naps happening while in the car, you will be able to get back on track when you get to your destination.
Sleep Fact: Motion sleep via car or stroller is not as restful or restorative for their bodies, this is another reason why first nap in crib sets the tone for starting the day with solid rest.
If your holiday travel means hopping on a flight that may be taking you to a new time zone and you’re not sure how your child will adjust, not to worry!
Sleep Fact: Children naturally carry less sleep debt than we do as adults, which means they tend to adjust quicker to time differences and recover quicker from jet lag.
My advice is to jump directly into the new time zone. If taking a short flight, I recommend day travel, if you will be taking a longer or extended flight, then I recommend traveling at night so that they are able to sleep on the plane over night. Once you land, jump into the new time and start the day.
Travel Tip: to help with your child’s ears during take off and landing, I recommend nursing or feeding. The jaw motion of sucking will help their ears to adjust to the pressure.
My go-to-travel sleep items: A compact sound machine (Marpac Hushh), Travel Black Out Blinds (Gro Blinds), and an easy travel friendly pack n play (4 Moms Breeze). When packing, make sure to bring your child’s sleep items from home. For example, their snuggle buddy or blankey and their sleep sack. It’s all about consistency with children, so even while away for the holidays, honor their routines and simulate their home sleep environment as best possible. When we’re away, our day to day schedules are usually different, and that’s ok! The goal is to try, but do not stress if it’s not perfect; children can adapt to new environments just fine.
Holiday fun must have: unwind time! Most children - depending on their age and personality - have a hard time unwinding for naps or bedtime with the extra fun, playtime, and stimulation that holiday time brings. It’s very important that they do not go directly from play to sleep without a proper transition.
When they do not have time to unwind from stimulation, we are more likely to see sleep resistance. Before it’s time for sleep, I recommend taking your little one into a bedroom or a quiet room for 10-15 minutes. Bring some books and/or sing some songs and allow them to decompress, before putting them down.
Screentime? Screen time stimulates the brain and can delay the falling asleep process as well as cause night wakings. If you’re little one watches any shows or movies, make sure to cut screen time 40 minutes before nap time and 40 minutes before your bedtime routine - this will be a big help!
Got a cold? There’s just nothing fun about getting a cold during this time of year! So, my first recommendation is prevention. If you are breastfeeding or pumping, breast milk will help keep your baby’s immune system strong as our bodies naturally pass the antibodies needed to fight infection and build natural immunity. If your child is older and no longer on breast milk, my go-to for immunity is organic elderberry syrup. Elderberry is also naturally sweet, so little ones love it!
With sleep, when a baby or toddler gets a cold, it is crucially important that they are getting healthy, independent sleep to help their body rest, recover, and restore. This tends to be the time when we as parents want to soothe for them, but I promise you they will sleep better and recover quicker when they are napping and sleeping at night.
If they catch a cold, make sure to make them as comfortable as possible during their routines - suck out the snot, elevate their heads, rub on a breathing cream on their chest, administer medicine if needed, etc. When they are putting themselves to sleep and getting healthy rest, they are less likely to need sleep assistance and will wake less frequently. If they do wake at night, it is okay to go in and tend to their needs, and then place them back in their cribs/beds to get some rest.
Routines & Consistency – Holiday time is busy, there’s usually no way around that, but it’s important that we keep sleep as consistent as we can. I do not recommend skipping naps or pushing out bedtime where possible to prevent over-tiredness and over-stimulation. Also, it is very common while we are visiting friends or family to hear, “But they don’t look tired...” when going to put them down for bed or nap. I want you to know, that when we wait for tired signs, we’ve missed their optimal window for sleep and it’s now too late.
When that happens, children then can become hyper, fussy, and more difficult to manage. There will still be plenty of time for fun and play, but your child will be happier and more capable of coping with holiday fun when they are rested!
Sleep Fact: The ideal bedtime window is between 6-7pm and for newborns (0-4 months) it is 8-8:30pm.
Mama always deserves a silent night, therefore, if you are struggling with your little one’s sleep, I offer free 15 minute consultations and would love to chat with you. Wishing you and your families a happy, blessed, and rested Holiday Season!
Anne Del Valle is a mother and a certified infant & toddler WeeSleep Sleep Consultant. She is passionate about helping children and families to get the sleep they need and deserve. Her approach is customized, empathetic, guided, educated, and effective.