How to Protect Your Kids' Sleep During the Holidays

Tips for managing those late nights and missed naps

Have you been thinking about the holidays and how your little one is going to cope while travelling? How will you manage those late nights and missed naps? Being with family and friends throughout the holidays is what makes them so special but when you have a child who requires naps and an early bedtime, it can add extra stress to an already stressful, busy time of year.

With the holidays around the corner, Restful Parenting has put together some tips to help you maintain healthy sleep while enjoying time with your loved ones.

1. Bring comfort items from home

Recreating their environment as closely as possible can help them adjust to their new sleep space. Bringing sleep items from home that are familiar to them will ease the transition when trying to settle them someplace new. These items may include:

  • Their bed sheet from their crib, or a blanket that they sleep with. Avoid washing it if you can so that it keeps its familiar scent.
  • A special cuddly or stuffy that they know from home.
  • A sound machine is an important tool that we always recommend. It will cue your child for sleep while eliminating the stress of trying to keep the house quiet at bedtime.
  • A familiar night light to help them feel secure, should they wake up

Tip: Keep the same bedtime routine as at home. Bring a book that they enjoy and sing the same song that relaxes them at bedtime.

2. Stick to their schedule as much as possible but expect some sleep disturbances

It is not always possible to stay on schedule when you are busy visiting others, especially when you are with family and friends you do not get to see often. Enjoy your time with them and if possible try and stay on schedule, and adjust it to incorporate your child’s need for sleep as much as you can. If you know that there will be a later bedtime, push naps back or add a nap throughout the day so that they are waking later that afternoon. If you will be missing a nap in bed, try to have them sleep on the go. If that is not an option, adjust bedtime earlier to compensate for the missed daytime sleep.

Tip: Daytime sleep is imperative for a good night’s sleep so making sure they are still getting some sleep through the day will ensure they are sleeping well through the night.

3. Get them used to the room they will be sleeping in

It can be upsetting for children to be put to sleep in a foreign room, especially if they have been overstimulated. Before putting them to sleep, take some time to get them used to the new environment. While you set up their playpen or whichever apparatus they will sleep in, have them explore the room. Show them around and let them play in there for as long as you can before it is time for them to go to sleep. The time spent in the room while your child is awake can help ease any fears or anxieties at bedtime and through the night.

Tip: If you are not sleeping in the same room as your older child, be sure to show them where you will be sleeping and familiarize them with where the bathroom is.

4. Expect some sleep regressions upon your return

No matter how prepared you are, and how much planning you do, you may still encounter some form of a regression when you return home. Following our tips will help reduce the severity, but there may still be some challenges. Make it your mission to get your child back on schedule as soon as you get home. It can take upwards of a week to get back to your pre-holiday sleep routine, but if you stay consistent, focus on the schedule and persevere, they will quickly be reminded of your expectations and their ability to sleep well again.