By Expert Contributor Katie Kovaleski
The holidays are typically full of fun, sugar fueled, present giving moments that can keep all of us running on nothing but happiness. It’s expected that schedules will be thrown off in favor of late nights and holiday celebrations. The best sleep advice I can give you during this time of year is…. DON’T STRESS!
Enjoy spending time with your family and celebrating. While I don’t recommend stressing too much about the details, try to keep the biggest sleep pieces in place the best that you can.
You child’s sleep schedule may be influenced by holiday celebrations and engagements, that’s to be expected and won’t cause too many disruptions if it happens just a few times.
If They Miss A Nap
If your child misses a nap and they are still taking multiple naps, move the second nap start time a bit earlier and compensate with a slightly earlier bedtime if you can. If they are on a one-nap schedule, make bedtime as early as you can, even as early as 5 pm. If that’s not possible, offer them a second nap that starts no later 2:30 and ends no later than 4. Be prepared that missing naps can cause night wakings and/or early wake times in the morning, either that day or the next, be aware of that and compensate accordingly.
Night Wakings/Early Wake Times
Children get excited around the holidays and that may cause night wakings or early wake ups. The best way to handle that is to be consistent and use your sleep training method.
It’s okay to be lax on the schedule here and there but I wouldn’t be lax about handling night wakings and early wake ups. Try to not bring your kids into bed with you if they are currently sleeping independently and help them stay in their own sleep space until an acceptable wake up time. Deviating on either of those things can create a long lasting habit, even if you just do it once or twice.
Formal Sleep Training
I never advocate beginning a sleep-training plan without having a two-week time period free from vacations, social outings during nap times, and any other distractions.
It is imperative for sleep to occur in the same place during training and that can be difficult during the holiday season. I recommend putting formal sleep training plans on hold until after the holidays are over.
Instead, work on your healthy sleep habits like scheduling, avoiding sleep crutches, and using drowsy but awake to teach self-soothing. Wait to begin formal sleep training methods until you can dedicate two full weeks to the entire plan including following the right schedule, every single day.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself! Do the best that you can sleep wise and remember that we are here to help and support you during and after the holidays!