4 TIPS TO HELP NAPPING CHILDREN STAY WELL-RESTED DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON
A few ways to be proactive in helping your child to sleep well through this busy season.
Holidays are around the corner! Are you prepared when it comes to your child’s sleep?
The fall and winter holidays can be a bit rough on families with little ones. The calendar is packed with activities. The list of to-dos is stacking up. And you don’t know if your child is just cranky from overstimulation, teething again, or coming down with the flu.
While sleep is so important all 365 days of the year, I would argue that it is even more crucial during the holidays to make it a priority because of such busy schedules. It can be what makes or breaks a family’s ability to enjoy the season.
So to help you through the holidays, here are some sleep tips to keep in mind!
Tip 1 PRESERVE YOUR CHILD'S SLEEP
This means to stick with your child's sleep schedule. Plan activities around naps. Schedule dinner with friends early enough that you can get your baby home for bedtime. Or? Host the activity or dinner at your house to allow your child to stick to their schedule while you still enjoy some quality time with those you love.
Tip 2 IF SLEEP GET THROWN OFF FOR A DAY, GET BACK ON TRACK
How you handle an off day is going to play a major role into whether or not your child has future struggles with sleep.
If the first tip is something you cannot avoid for a day, then help your child get right back to their regular schedule ASAP. No need to just throw in the towel because one day was off.
This might mean providing an earlier bedtime to help with a missed nap. Or getting your child back to their schedule the next morning after a late bedtime.
If you miss a nap or get your child down later than normal here or there over the span of the holiday season, that's ok! It is expected. Such is life.
However, if you are frequently skipping naps or putting your baby to bed late, you can expect a snowball of sleep debt. An overtired child who starts to experience trouble falling asleep for nap time or bedtime, wakes frequently at night, rises early in the morning.
Tip 3 BE AWARE OF OVERSTIMULATION FOR YOUR CHILD & TRY TO AVOID IT
This tip is small but mighty.
The holidays are often a time when we visit with friends and family that maybe we don't see on the regular. Aka? They don't get to see your little one very often.
This can often mean a lot more hugs, kisses, tickling, snuggling than your child is accustomed to receiving and/or more than they can handle.
Do not be afraid to advocate for your child.
My suggestion is to avoid overstimulation when possible. And if you notice that your child is becoming overstimulated, remove them from the environment that might be causing this. For example, take a moment to go for a quiet walk. Take them into a room where no one else is. Offer them some toys that don't produce light or sounds and allow them to have some time for independent play. Basically? Give them some time to decompress.
When a child is overstimulated, they can become exhausted and overwhelmed. And while potentially tired, it can make falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult. Not to mention, a very cranky and overall unhappy baby.
TIP 4 SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR ALL INVOLVED
This means for yourself, your child, and potentially friends and family!
Set realistic expectations regarding what the holiday season will look like with an infant or toddler. It doesn't look the same as it once did without kids.
If you have family members or friends who need some boundaries set, set those boundaries ahead of time.
If you have a toddler or preschooler, explain to them what they can expect within a day that is full of activities. If traveling somewhere, show them pictures of where they will be staying and who they will be visiting.
For a deeper dive into these as well as tips if traveling across time zones, visit www.afterthestorksleep.com/holidays to access my past masterclass, Keeping Your Napping Child Well-Rested During the Holidays, for free. It is right under 15 minutes long.
Even though it was recorded in 2020, all of the tips still apply!
Note that if you are a Stork Villager, you automatically have access to this in your Stork Village Hub.