Over excitement can mean less sleep, creating sleep issues that linger well into the New Year
As the Christmas holidays approach, you may want to think about your child’s sleep practices for the festive period. It can be such an exciting time for young children, but it is also a really busy time with extra activities, holiday visitors, along with late nights and possibly staying away from home. Whilst you absolutely need to embrace the merriment, our ambassador Lucy Wolfe says it is important to be cautious and mindful about how sleep can be affected. Overtiredness, over excitement and travel can mean that you get less sleep than normal, with many families finding issues that arise over Christmas can linger well into the New Year. Lucy is here to share some suggestions on how to have a merry and rested Christmas time.
Decisions for festive fun
Ideally in the run up to the festive period, it’s best to have young children optimally rested. That way they will be more tolerant of changes and lost sleep. Whether this is your first Christmas with children or your family has grown in numbers, you may find that you have to make decisions about what events you can attend, how late you stay, if you travel or if you stay at home. Ultimately you will know your own child best, but if you observe that your child is normally slow to warm up, not very adjustable or seems sensitive to being overtired then you will need to maintain your current sleep practices as much as possible. Of course, you need to have fun! But your fun could be impaired if your young child starts to resist sleep, wake frequently and become fussy with their food because they have built up a sleep debt.
Avoid big changes
I am aware that lots of parents may decide to help their child give up the dummy or the bottle by giving it to Santa, but I would proceed with caution. This is a huge adjustment and may affect everyone’s enjoyment at Christmas time and may affect their sleep ability, specifically if they are used to using the dummy or bottle at sleep time. My advice would be to save big changes like this for the New Year. Furthermore, I don’t recommend that you work on your child’s sleep this time of year, unless you will be able to be home on time for bedtime, won’t miss day time sleep and if you are not planning on staying away from home, even if just for a night or two. Any of these elements will affect your efforts and may make it hard to establish different sleep practices so are best addressed in 2019
Many families will travel to be with loved ones this yuletide, so Christmas-proof your child’s sleep with the following tips:
1. Ideally travel during the day and arrive at your location in advance of sleep time. This way you can acclimatise your child to their new sleep room
2. Don’t forget your familiar items: the teddy, the blanket, the music CD that you normally play and familiar books that you routinely read.
3. Ensure that you are providing a good sleep space: a cot (travel or conventional) or bed if that is where your child normally sleeps. Bring with you the sheets from their cot at home that they slept on the night before, so they can smell their familiar environment.
4. Try to keep bedtime as similar as possible, both timing wise and procedure. Consider adding an extra 10 minutes to your bedtime routine to help ease them into the unfamiliar environment
5. If you are room sharing when you normally don’t then, move the cot or bed as far away as you can.
6. Avoid sharing the bed if you don’t normally so that you don’t create an expectation when you arrive home
7. If you are travelling through time zones, get straight into the location time
8. Re-establish your typical routine and sleep approaches immediately on arrival home
Above all, have a wonderful Christmas time with your family and friends and look forward to a rested 2019.