Post-Holiday Tips to Getting Your Child Back on the Pre-Holiday Sleep Schedule
I absolutely LOVE Christmas time. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. However, many parents come to me because their child’s sleep pattern is completely thrown off by the Holidays. Family visits, long trips (by car or plane), late night shopping and waiting up for Santa, can cause the good ole sleep schedule to fly right out of the window. By January, families try to settle back into their old routines; however, it isn’t too difficult for adults. The trouble is helping their small children resume their pre-holiday sleep schedule.
Despite the challenges, the question becomes how do you get back to that close to perfect sleep routine you had prior to the holidays? Don’t despair! Here are 5 tips to get everyone back to sleep in no time.
TIP #1 Know your child’s sleep needs – research the age appropriate sleep times for your child. It is very important to know how many hours of sleep your little one should be getting. I always recommend following the sleep duration recommendations of The National Sleep Foundation (www.sleep.org). But remember, not all children are the same. Some children have higher sleep needs than others. Do not get frustrated when your child sleeps an hour more or less than the sleep recommendation.
TIP #2 Establish an early bedtime routine and stick to it. The best way to combat overtiredness is more sleep. Don’t fret, this does not need to be permanent. Try the earlier bedtime for at least a week and see if there is an improvement. Also, it is suggested that your child be put to bed 30-45 minutes earlier than the normal bedtime.
TIP #3 Bring back naps – As previously mentioned, the best way to combat tiredness is more sleep. In the case of children, it may be as simple as reintroducing nap time. For 2-3 days incorporate a nap time into the daily routine. Even older children can benefit from an hour powernap in the afternoon.
TIP #4 Darkness is your friend – Our body produces a hormone called melatonin which plays a critical part in when we fall asleep. Darkness promotes the production of melatonin and increases its production in our bodies. For this reason, using blinds and/or blackout curtains in the room where your child sleeps can be beneficial. Lastly, if a nightlight is used in your child’s room, make sure it is a warm red, orange or brown color instead of a bright one.
TIP #5 Do not make any sudden changes – As you are implementing the tips above you want to keep your child’s sleep environment (room, bed, house) the same. It is counterproductive to work on getting your child’s sleep pattern back on track while traveling, moving to a new home or visiting with family and friends. Routine and consistency are key when trying to get your child to sleep better.
Although I promised 5 tips, here is a bonus…
TIP #6. Children are very intuitive and can pick up on your energy very easily. Hence, if you are anxious, nervous or think, “This is never going to work,” your child will sense itJ. Despite being easier said than done, stay calm and know that your child IS capable of returning to their previously established sleep pattern and that YOU are doing a great job!
Nicole Woodriffe is a FSI graduated Certified Child Sleep Consultant and the owner of Bedtime Sleeptime Child Sleep Consulting Services (http://www.bedtimesleeptime.com) specializing in baby sleep consulting services. Nicole is a mom of 3 happy and well rested children.