It is the time of year when many of our homes come alive with bright lights, music and festivities. Routines sometimes go out of the window, but we often overlook the impact that this can have on the quality of our children’s sleep.
If your baby or child has a fairly fixed schedule you should try to stick to this as much as possible. Do take their personality into account – some babies are able to stretch a little longer between naps without it affecting them too much. Others will get overtired very quickly if you deviate too much from their usual schedule.
My top tips for coping with Christmas disruption:
- Stick to your normal routine as closely as possible, but don’t panic if you have to deviate!
- If you have a particularly busy day which throws your usual routine out, try to plan in a more restful one the next day to play catch up
- Don’t be afraid to stand your ground with well-meaning relatives – if you say baby needs their nap, they need their nap!
- Whilst its lovely to spend more time with relatives and friends, it can mean you get more ‘helpful advice’ than normal. Be confident in your parenting decisions and what works for your child
- All naps count…. napping in buggy/car/sling is absolutely fine. This can make life easier if you are away from home.
- If your little one is sleeping away from home, take some slept-in bedding and a familiar toy/comforter. Babies love familiar smells.
- A familiar story can also help, especially for toddlers and older children. It can be hard for all of us to sleep in an unfamiliar environment so give your little one lots of support.
- It is very normal for smaller babies to want to feed more for comfort and reassurance in unfamiliar surroundings, or if they feel overstimulated – don’t be embarrassed or self-conscious about this.
- Babies and children can easily become overstimulated by their environment which can turn into overtiredness or tantrums. Try to stick to your little one’s regular bedtime or nap times to avoid this.
- However, with all the extra stimulation and excitement, you might find an earlier bedtime is needed some days, go with it!
- It can be tempting to all stay up later than usual at Christmas but try and stick to an age appropriate bedtime and include some wind down time before hand in a low-lit room.
- If you want to stay late at a relative’s house, you can try putting baby to bed at their normal time there and then transferring to a car for the drive home.
- Be mindful of sugary foods, especially towards to the end of the day. Sugar is a stimulant and affect sleep.
- Get out at some point during the day for some fresh air, natural light and exercise. It is beneficial for all of us to be exposed to natural light and to move our bodies.
- If you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed, then take the opportunity for a relative to watch baby while you take a little time for yourself to have a lay down/cuppa or a walk around the block.
Whatever happens this Christmas you will always be able to get back on track in the New Year. I hope that you can all relax and enjoy the festive season, Merry Christmas!