The busiest time of year is upon us and as we approach the holiday season, parents often start to wonder how they can travel, see everyone they need to see, and still have their baby sleep well. So I’ve compiled my top sleep tips for your baby this holiday season.
Most infants are still taking multiple naps a day. This can be as few as 2 or as many as every other hour. If you intend to be away from home for hours or days sometimes the easiest place to get your baby to sleep is a place that reminds them of home. This may mean bringing a travel crib and setting it up in a spare room at the home you are visiting, or even popping a baby in the car to drive them around for a nap. But whatever you do, it’s helpful to remember some of the keys for successful infant sleep: dark room, white noise, cool temperature, and routine. I recommend traveling with a SnoozeShade (https://snoozeshadeusa.com) or Slumber Pod (www.slumberpod.com) if you are going to have an extended stay in a place where you need to share a room or you can’t blackout the room where you are staying.
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It’s very hard, especially for the littlest of babies, to sleep well when they have been overstimulated all day long. Visiting others can often come with the side effects of loud noises, bright lights, and many people passing around your infant. While this is par for the course (especially when visiting family), you want to remember that this can be a lot of stimulation for a young child. When a child is overstimulated, their cortisol level ends up rising which can in turn make it harder for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. So when you notice the activity around your baby getting to be a little too much, retreat to a quiet room, maybe darken that room a bit, and spend a little time getting your baby to relax (especially if it’s prior to a sleep period).
Infants in particular thrive on routine. That’s why I stress the importance of a bedtime “routine”. But, their daily timing is also important to that routine as well. It’s not always possible when you are running from place to place and celebrating, but I always keep an eye on the clock when I travel and aim for naps and bedtimes at roughly the same time they occur at home. You may have to adapt a little such as a nap in the car, or dinner earlier than you would have done pre-kids, but a baby can’t understand all of the activity you are engaging in for the holidays. What they do recognize is their body’s normal cues to sleep and eat at certain times of the day. So try not to deviate too far from this schedule, especially if you travel for extended periods.
Despite all these tips, the biggest suggestion I have for families during the holiday season is to be flexible. Sure you may plan to have certain naps happen in certain places, but when you are out of your day-to-day element, things don’t always go as planned. So remember the holidays are temporary. Try and relax and enjoy the moments.
-Nicole Cannon AKA "The Sleepy Mama"