Surviving Baby Sleep During the Holidays

Jill Bertelsen
The holidays are approaching, which can bring a lot of festivities, excitement, and family time. Trees are going up, strings of lights are being plugged in, turkeys are being cooked, and presents are being wrapped! This can be such a joyous time to spend with family and loved ones. Even though the holidays bring some of the best memories, it can also be a time of stress and chaos due to all of the planning, the cooking, or the travelling. There’s so much to worry about during the holidays, and baby sleep shouldn’t be one of them! Here are 6 tips to follow to take the stress off of baby sleep so you can enjoy the holiday season.

1. Be Flexible

As much as you would like to keep your baby’s schedule perfect, it is likely that it won’t be exact during the holidays. For example, you may not be home during naptime or bedtime. Perhaps you are hosting a family dinner, and your guests have overrun Baby’s bedroom. It is important to stay flexible. Recognize that you might have to make a few sacrifices during this time to accommodate holiday plans. You might have to skip a bath one night or create a makeshift nursery in a closet in the spare bedroom. Just remember, it is only a few days. As soon as the hustle and bustle is over, you can go right back to your normal schedule, and Baby should adjust quickly. Give yourself a day or two to return to normality. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy the holidays without trying to keep Baby’s schedule to a T.

2. Stick to Familiarity as Much as Possible

Babies and children thrive off of consistency. They do best when they are able to predict what is coming next. However, this may be difficult when plans change and you are out of your normal routine at home. As much as possible, keep everything consistent for your child. For sleeping, bring the same sheets, blankets, loveys, or pajamas that your baby is used to sleeping with at home. Use the same noise machine or fan. Try to recreate the same sleep space that your baby is used to at home. If you are travelling and need to use a Pack ‘n Play instead of a crib, let your baby sleep in the Pack ‘n Play for 3-4 nights at home before your vacation to help make the transition smoother. Try to maintain the same naptime and bedtime routines as well. It is important to step away from the holiday fun for a few minutes to give your child the familiarity of their bedtime song, book, and tuck in time. The consistency will help during the holidays as well as the transition back to normal life at home.

3. Accommodate for Nap Time

Though the holidays can be busy and fun, it is important to still emphasize nap times. Your child will still need sleep during vacation just as much as they do at home, maybe even more. The travelling will wear them out. They might get overstimulated by all of the people at home. They will spend a lot of energy playing with cousins. Make sure that you are trying to match the naptime schedule at home while on vacation as much as possible. Yes, it will require some flexibility, but it will make the holidays go so much soother when your children are well rested and happy. Set up a designated sleep space for your child. Assign a bedroom in the back of the house away from distraction for nap time. Make sure to inform your guests or family members that Baby needs to sleep, and he is in the back room so no one enters and disturbs him. Bringing a baby monitor with you will be helpful so you can put baby to sleep and still check on him if his crying can’t be heard over the noise of the party. Allow from some quiet time to help your child wind down and prepare for sleep. Assure him that he will be able to play with cousins as soon as he is done resting. It is important to keep up on your child’s sleep so you don’t have to pay for it later.

4. Take Breaks

A lot of people travel for the holidays to visit family and friends. It is important to plan for a longer trip to accommodate for breaks. Especially if you are driving in the car, make sure to stop every 1-2 hours with your child. Let them get out of the car seat, wiggle around, and walk around outside for a bit before getting on the road again. Not only will this decrease the chance of a cranky baby screaming for hours at a time in the car, it will promote safety as well when your child falls asleep in the car. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics)  recommends that all baby sleep should be in a flat, firm crib or bassinet, not a reclined seat that requires restraining the baby. This includes infant car seats. Because infants do not have the strength to hold up their own heads, it is likely that their head will slump forward when sleeping in a car seat, cutting off their airway for breathing. Keeping the car ride as short as possible will help keep your child safe in the car. Should you need to travel for a long stretch of time in a car, break up the ride so Baby has a break from the carseat. If he falls asleep, check on him frequently to make sure his head stays in a safe position, keeping his airway open.

5. Maximize Family Time

It can be disappointing to grandparents or cousins when Baby has to go to bed early or leave to take a nap. A great way to accommodate this is to include Grandma and Grandpa in Baby’s bedtime routine. Let them give the bath, read the book, and tuck them in. Ask them for help getting jammies on and brushing teeth. Grandparents will love the extra time they will get with their grand-kids, especially if they don’t get to see them often. If they are still feeling short on time, utilize day time hours such as mornings. Kids are usually chipper and refreshed in the mornings after a good night’s sleep, so let them run errands with Aunt Mary. Allow them to help prepare the meals with Grandma before nap time. Keeping everyone involved will help them feel like they are getting the most out of their time with their grand-kids while still allowing them to take a nap and go to bed at a reasonable bedtime.

6. Have Fun

Allow yourself and your children to have fun. The holidays should be a time of family, food, and memories. Try not to stress too much over small things like how long your baby slept, how much they ate, or how dirty their clothes are. Relax, and enjoy your time off. The holidays are when you can enjoy your family and make life lasting memories! Remember that you can get right back to your daily schedule and sleep routine as soon as you get home. Don’t deprive yourself of memorable experiences because you are worried about ruining your child’s sleep. Relax, sit back, and enjoy this fun season! Baby sleep should not be taking away from your holiday festivities. It should be adding to it! Following these simple tips will help keep your little one well rested and everyone happy during the most wonderful time of the year!