The excitement of the holidays is just around the corner. Does the thought of travel and visiting leave you feeling anxious about how this will impact your family’s sleep? Will your holiday season be restful or will sleep be a struggle as you travel and visit relatives? If the thought of your little ones being up all night during holiday travel has you feeling like a Grinch, start preparing for healthy holiday sleep by implementing the best tip for sleep over the holidays- establish a consistent sleep routine.
When parents carry out a consistent sleep routine prior to naptime and bedtime, children have an easier time settling and staying asleep. When we travel over the holidays we create inconsistency. Our children aren’t in their own home, playing with their own toys, eating their usual food or sleeping in their own beds. But, if we use the same sleep routine on the road as we do every day at home, children will adapt to the change in environment. The sleep routine is a familiar, consistent reminder that sleep is just around the corner whether they’re at home or on the road.
With just a few weeks left before the holidays, now is a fantastic time to establish a consistent sleep routine for your children. Keep the following tips in mind as you set up your routine and prepare for healthy holiday sleep.
- Begin with a bath. A bath is a great start to a bedtime routine. A warm bath elevates the body’s temperature. As you take your child out of the bath her body will cool slightly causing a natural surge in melatonin, the sleep hormone, which encourages the onset of sleep.
- Dress for success. Dressing your child for sleep gives another cue that sleep is just around the corner. A sleep sack or wearable blanket provides babies and toddlers with a positive sleep association. Your child will understand that when she puts on this piece of clothing she goes to sleep.
- Cue the cuddling. What’s better than snuggling your just bathed, sleepy baby? Many families will read an age appropriate book and finish their bedtime routine with a spoken verse, prayer or a song.
- Attitude is everything. Children are excellent emotional barometers for their parents. If we are rushed, anxious or frazzled our children will pick up on those feelings. Moving confidently through the sleep routine shows our little ones that we are lovingly leading the way towards a restful night of sleep.
- A naptime necessity. A sleep routine is just as important at naptime as it is at bedtime. Follow the same routine you use at night but skip the bath.
- Tune up your timing. If you’re too late with bedtime or naptime your children will be overtired and the routine will feel rushed. Be responsive to your child’s behaviour. You won’t read a 20 page story to a 5 year old who is exhausted and you won’t insist on singing 3 verses of a song to a baby who is clearly ready to turn in. Modify your routine as needed and consider making adjustments to naptime and bedtime.
Alysa Dobson is a mom, wife and a Certified Child Sleep Consultant. As a former city girl, transplanted in the country, she enjoys the charms of life in rural Saskatchewan, Canada- from meals in the field in the summer to nights at the rink in the winter. As a mother to two former insomniacs, turned amazing sleepers, Alysa enjoys helping other families get the sleep they need. You can read more of Alysa’s writing at http://www.sleepwellbaby.ca/category/blog/ or contact her at [email protected]