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Taking the Stress out of Sleep At Christmas

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

When it comes to Christmas, we often face many parenting challenges such as overstimulation (lights, music and parties), sugar highs (and lows , a disruption to the routine as well as the inevitable coughs and colds. So what can we do to try and keep sleep on track during the festive period?



Knowing your child

First of all, think about what your little one’s sleep needs and temperament are like. Do they have more of an easy going temperament and need less sleep ? In which case I would recommend just going with the flow and not worrying about sticking to the usual routine so much. But if your little one is more like my daughter, highly sensitive with high sleep needs, I strongly recommend you talk to any family and friends who you’ll be spending time with over the holidays. Explain to them the importance of your little ones naps, routine and bedtime and that by being able to stick to these things, you and your child will have a much happier, less stressful time.


Home comforts

Sleeping away from home is hard, it is hard for most adults so we should expect that our little ones will need more support to fall asleep and perhaps more support to stay asleep for longer whilst they are away. Have a think about how you can make sleep as easy as possible if you are away during the holidays. This could mean sleeping in the same room or bed, if it is safe to do so. Whenever I go to my sister’s house I always find it easier sleeping in the same room, it means I don’t have to worry about struggling to get to either of them quickly if they wake in the night or early in the morning. We often take a blow up toddler bed for my son and my daughter shares a bed with me. For us, it feels like a treat and we all look forward to it. Making sleep easier could also be a case of bringing bedding which smells of home, along with a familiar bedtime story and your sound machine and groclock (if you use them).



Bedtime

Are you planning to have later bedtimes than usual ? Think about your child and the impact it will have on them. For my son, later bedtimes aren’t an issue; he will either sleep for longer in the morning or he will take a nap the next day. However, for my daughter later bedtimes are an issue and they generally aren't worth it for us. If it has to be done, I try to make sure that, we can go somewhere in the car so that she can have a short nap before the planned later bedtime or I make sure that she can have an earlier bedtime the following day.


If you are planning to be out later than your little one's usual bedtime and your little one can handle this then I would go with the flow. If your little one gets very upset being awake later than their usual bedtime, try to put them ‘to bed’ where you are, so perhaps in a travel cot (we have the Red Kite Travel cot) if that's possible or a carrier or pram. If they wake up when you arrive home and seem wide awake, have a little ‘down’ time and then start your usual bedtime routine once you see their tired signals.




My Final Tips
Minimise Sugar Before bedtime

Some children are more susceptible to this than others. If my daughter has sugar anywhere close to bedtime she is like a cat on red bull! My advice is no sugar after dinner. If they are hungry after dinner, offer a high protein snack such as hummus or peanut butter on toast or granola and yoghurt.


Over stimulation

This is inevitable but try to plan in some down time, this might involve going into a quiet room with just you and your little one, feeding, cuddling or reading a story. Or taking your little one for a walk in the carrier.


Get lots of Fresh Air

Everyone loves a Christmas film but do make sure you get out and about during the day. Fresh air, natural light and exercise does wonders for sleep and mental health. If you are anything like me you may love Christmas but also find it very stressful, especially with young children and visitors staying or staying at other people's houses. For me, it is fresh air and a park trip which helps the most.



You know your child best of all

Don’t ever forget that you know your little one most and you are the best person to decide what they need. So don’t be afraid to insist on making plans which accommodate your child’s sleep needs. You will know best if they are going to be a total grouch without a nap, a shorter nap or a later bedtime.


Holiday Sleep Habits Stay on Holiday

Don't bring any holiday sleep habits back with you that you don't want to continue. Sometimes it is easier and gets everyone more sleep to have 'different sleep ways' while you are away. Don't worry about this, just be strong when you get back home if you decide you don't want to continue these. But remember there are NO BAD SLEEP HABITS! Do what works for you and yours.




I hope these tips have provided you with some reassurance and some practical advice on how you may be able to plan and support your little one’s sleep during the holidays. If you are after more sleep advice, do check out my online courses which give you lifetime access or my one to one support. You don’t need to delay one to one support until after Christmas (unless you want to) all my sleep packages provide advice for the here and now as well as for when you are back to your usual routines).


Happy Holidays

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