There’s so much to love about summer when it comes to babies and toddlers: Not having to bundle them up in layers, spending more time outdoors, filling up that wading pool. Also, is there anything cuter than a baby in nothing but a diaper?!?
But there’s a downside, too. Longer daylight hours, hot temperatures and vacation travel can wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep. Luckily, we’ve got a few tips for how to manage some common summer sleep challenges.
But it doesn’t feel like bedtime!
If you’ve started noticing that your baby or toddler just doesn’t seem to want to settle down at bedtime, there’s a good chance it has something to do with that big yellow orb out there in the sky. Your baby’s internal clock may be saying “I’m tired!” but the sunlight coming through the windows is telling them “It’s not bedtime yet!”
There are a couple of things you can do: First, try gradually shifting your baby’s afternoon nap a little earlier. (If they take a morning nap, you may need to shift that a little earlier too.) Since your baby will be awake for a longer stretch after their afternoon nap, they should be sleepier by the time their bedtime rolls around. Just be sure you don’t let them get too tired before you put them to bed. There’s nothing worse than trying to get a cranky, overtired baby to sleep.
The other thing that may help is to try to make your baby’s room darker at bedtime, with light-blocking shades or curtains. Dark colored towels or black garbage bags tacked or taped to the window frames work too. Either way, darken the room before you start the bedtime routine, so your baby can spend some time in dim light to help them settle down and get into sleep mode.
It’s too hot for sleeping!
Just like adults, babies have a hard time sleeping when they’re too hot. If temps are high and air conditioning isn’t an option, you’ll want to make sure your baby isn’t getting overheated. Don’t overdress them, and make sure their head is uncovered. For most babies, a short-sleeved onesie will do the trick. If you’re still swaddling your baby, be sure to use a lightweight wrap, and try swaddling them only from the waist up, so their legs stay cool and uncovered. To see if your baby is too hot, put your hand to their neck when you check on them. Their skin should feel cool and dry, not hot and sweaty. If you do have air conditioning, on the other hand, make sure it’s not blasting, so your baby won’t get too cold. Your best bet is to try to keep the room at a comfortable 68-72°F (20-22℃.)
Routine? What routine?
For many of us, summer is the season for vacation trips, out-of-town visitors and backyard barbecues. In other words: later-than-usual (and less-than-consistent) bedtimes. Naps often go by the wayside, too. To some extent, you’ve just gotta roll with it. But there are a few things you can do so you won’t be living in meltdown-city all summer long.
First, try to make sure your baby gets at least one good nap in per day, even if it’s not at the usual time. Even some “quiet time”—a story or low-key play in a quiet place—will do if a nap isn’t possible. If bedtime happens significantly later than usual one night, try to get back to the normal bedtime the next night, before a pattern forms. Finally, when you’re traveling, make sure you bring along the things your baby usually has at bedtime: that special soft toy, the white noise machine, a favorite book, etc. (Check out our holiday sleep tips for some more great ideas.)
Have any tips to share about how to make sure your baby is comfy and well-rested over the summer? Or any sleep challenges you’d love for us to write about here? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know on Instagram or shoot us a note at email@example.com.