Between holiday parties and traveling to visit family, our little one’s nap and nighttime schedule is bound to encounter some obstacles. How can we be flexible enough to enjoy our social engagements while still ensuring she receives the sleep she needs?
A: Maintaining your child’s usual nap and bedtime schedule can be incredibly tough in the midst of holiday celebrations and traveling, but with a little strategic planning, you can minimize the disruptions significantly. Here are a few tips that I offer my clients during the holiday season:
- Sleep-inducing products, like portable blackout shades and a white noise machine, can help your child nap well in a noisy, overly bright room.
- Bring along any objects that your child associates with sleep, like a lovey or a favorite crib sheet. This can help make an unfamiliar room more comfortable for your baby.
- If your child sleeps well in the car, try to time your drive so that she’ll catch a nap during the trip or fall asleep at bedtime while en route. (When you reach your destination, you can transfer her to a bed.)
- If you have to miss a nap, skip the afternoon nap, if possible, because the morning nap is more restorative. Follow up the missed nap with an earlier bedtime.
- If bedtime is later than normal, let your child sleep past her usual morning wake-up time, or offer an earlier morning nap the next day. Doing this several days in a row will throw her schedule off, but you’ll help ward off overtiredness and crankiness in the short-term, which makes for a much nicer holiday.
- Remember to enjoy your holiday celebrating, and don’t stress too much about your child’s sleep schedule. You can get on track again when you get home. For now, focus on having fun.
—Nicole Johnson, founder and lead consultant of The Baby Sleep Site