The holiday season is is extra magical with little ones in the mix. (Also: Hello, adorable, holiday-themed onesies!) But if you’ve been working hard to get your baby or toddler to sleep better, you may be worried about how they’ll weather all the routine changes: Long flights and drives, overnight stays with grandparents, out-of-whack meal schedules, late nights. Nothing puts a damper on holiday cheer like an overtired, cranky baby.
So, here are a handful of things you can do to help keep your little guy or gal well rested enough to be a part of the fun without getting in the way of yours.
1. Lay the groundwork in advance.
If you have a consistent bedtime and naptime routine at home, you’ll have better luck getting your baby or toddler to sleep at their usual times even when you’re traveling or staying out later than usual. You’ll also have a little more flexibility to stray from the routine without your baby or toddler ending up cranky and overtired. Start making good sleep a priority now, before the holidays are in full swing.
2. Try to stick to your usual bedtime routine.
Babies and toddlers are (very cute) creatures of habit, so familiar routines help keep them on an even keel. Try to keep the same general order of steps (feeding, diaper, books, etc.) before bedtime or naptime. You may need to add a little extra wind-down time if it’s been a long, stimulating day. If you’re traveling, be sure to bring some of your baby’s usual loveys, books, blankets, PJs and white noise to create a familiar sleep environment.
3. Make time for quiet time.
It can be hard to keep your baby on their regular nap schedule during the holidays, especially when you’re visiting friends or relatives. But to whatever extent you can, carve out some time for daytime sleep. If you can’t get your little one to actually fall asleep, don’t give up; take a drive or walk, or turn naptime into “down time” for quiet play or books, away from noise and company. (And yes, be that family that brings a port-a-crib to the party. You’ll be glad you did the next day.)
4. Don’t overschedule.
As tempting as it can be to try to cram in every visit, social event and obligation over the holidays, overscheduling can make it doubly hard for your baby or toddler to get the rest they need. Be firm with yourself—and with your relatives, if need be—so you can schedule time for naps and stick to an early bedtime most nights.
5.Take a deep breath and another slice of pie.
Remember, it’s totally normal to have some hiccups in your baby’s sleep schedule and behavior this time of year. It may take a few days or even a week or two to reestablish good sleep habits after the holiday hubbub dies down, but with patience and persistence you’ll get there! Cheers.