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Baby Sleep and the Holidays

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Cara Dumaplin

baby smiling at holidays and baby sleep

Often, the holidays mean disrupted baby sleep and schedules. For many parents, this can cause a lot of extra stress! Let me reassure you: You can still have a great sleeper during (and after) the holidays even if that normal routine is a bit off. ⁣ I want to remind you: it’s just one day (or one long weekend).⁣ ⁣ Yes, sleep is important, and a well-rested little one will make your holiday time so much more enjoyable, but these special times require a little bit of flexibility!⁣

Let’s talk about how you can make the most of the holidays, enjoy time with family, and set your baby up for the best sleep possible.

1. Walk confidently in what you know about your baby.

I know there can be so many opinions about parenting, baby sleep, feeding, and so much more. Yes, always, but especially during the holidays. Parents, YOU are the expert on your baby. Nobody knows that baby better than you. Unsolicited advice may come your way, but don’t let that shake your confidence in the decisions you’ve made for your baby and your family.

2. Set your day up for success by getting one good nap in a crib, bassinet, or play yard. 

One solid nap at home, back in your hotel room, or where your family is staying can make a huge difference. If you can get more, great! But make this your goal: At least one good nap in the crib, bassinet, or play yard.⁣ If the other naps need to happen on-the-go or in your arms, so be it. That one good nap will make for a much happier baby and even happier holidays!

3. Pack what you need for sleep.

If your baby will need to nap or sleep somewhere while you’re out for the day, let's think through what he might need for sleep. Consider bringing a travel crib, sound machine, pacifiers, and sleep sack.

4. Find a safe sleep space for your baby. 

Ask if there’s a place for you to set up a Pack 'n Play or travel crib for your little one. Maybe there’s a bedroom away from all the party activity. Maybe it’s an office. Maybe there’s space to set up a Slumberpod (CARA20 saves you $20) away from the action. Be creative and flexible. Often you can find a way to make a sleep space work while you’re at a holiday event.

5. Consider adjusting your baby’s schedule for the day.

Adjusting your baby's schedule may mean adding an extra catnap to help shift bedtime later. Or, it could mean waking your baby up early from a nap in order to make it to your event on time. This may not follow your typical schedule, but it’s okay to be flexible in order to make your holiday plans work! Yes, it's important to establish good habits and have a routine. However, it’s really okay (and even GOOD) to be flexible sometimes too. And, let’s face it, holidays and family gatherings are a perfect reason to be “off” of a schedule for a day or two.

6. Be ready for bedtime. 

If you’ll be out past bedtime, bring pajamas and anything else you might need to get your little one ready for bed before heading home. You can do your bedtime routine before you climb into the car (put on pajamas, read a book, turn on the sound machine). If she falls asleep on the way home, she’s ready for bed. When you get home, transition her right to the crib. If she wakes up, keep the lights low and help your baby back to sleep. For some babies, this means offering a condensed version of your bedtime routine; for others, it’s simply rocking for a bit to help prepare her for sleep before placing her in the crib. Bottom line: do what you need to do to help your baby. One night will not derail your great little sleeper.

One more thing and this is so important: Wherever your baby is sleeping during the holidays, the one thing that isn’t flexible is safe sleep. All of those safe sleep guidelines still apply whether you're traveling, hosting, or on-the-go.

I want you to enjoy the holidays and make memories. You can still have a great sleeper during (and after) the holidays. If sleep is always a struggle, my classes can help.


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