Hohoho, it’s finally here again – the most magical time of the year. However, it can be a busy time too! Between the hustle and bustle between shopping, going to the Christmas markets, holidays with the family accompanied by the colourful sea of lights of the Christmas decorations can quickly be too much for babies and small children. There is a lot to process, which can affect little one’s sleep. And if there is not enough time to rest because of the many activities during the day, there is no other way for the children to process the many impressions and stimuli in the evening or at night. With toddlers, this can manifest itself in hyperactivity or tantrums, and with the very youngest, not infrequently in an evening screaming concert. To prevent this, we would like to give you our baby sleep guide – the Christmas edition:
Less stress at Christmas with baby: the 10 best tips
Make room for breaks: If your little one is still sleeping during the day, build in an extended period of relaxation time. Watch out for the first signs of tiredness and retreat to the bedroom or a darker, quieter environment in time before your baby gets overtired and starts crying. You can also read a short story, cuddle or sing before napping to wind down together after all the excitement of the first half of the day. Especially if you’re spending the holidays away from home with your family, it’s important to maintain your bedtime rituals as much as possible. And don’t forget: take familiar things with you, like the baby sleeping bag, cuddly toy or favourite book.
Even if it’s nice – it’s better to avoid any festive lighting or decorations in the bedroom. A simple, dark and quiet environment is important for your child to relax and unwind. There’s already enough going on outside!
Avoid bedtime treats
Pay attention to what your children eat just before nap time or bedtime. Even though adults can usually manage one or two treats, sugary foods like chocolate act as a stimulant, especially for children. Eaten in excess in the evening or before a nap, can make it much harder to fall asleep.
Planning is everything
You’re already off to a great start by having this baby sleep guide ready to go! Of course, your children are more excited than usual at Christmas time. That’s why it’s important to plan active games during the day to reduce this excitement. Towards the evening, you can plan quieter activities or family games so that your kids can slowly wind down and not have to go from action level 100 to zero to go to bed.
If your child is old enough, you can talk about your day together during the bath time or bedtime routine, for example. What happened that was most wonderful? What did you like less about the day today? This helps the little ones to process emotions and experiences before they try to sleep. This way, they don’t lie in bed upset and worrying about anything that prevents them from falling asleep.
Catch the early bird
Be prepared for your days to start even earlier than usual in the run-up to Christmas. Cortisol (activity hormone) levels in the body rise in the early hours of the morning. When your child wakes up then, his melatonin (the sleep hormone) decreases and he will have a harder time falling back to sleep – especially with all the excitement of baking biscuits, a new Advent calendar door or even Christmas presents.
Recognise if baby is overtired early:
Your baby is overtired but doesn’t want to fall asleep? This is a bit like missing the right motorway exit. It will probably take you a lot longer to get your baby to sleep. This also applies to toddlers and even school children. That’s why it’s important to consciously look for signs that your child is tired – subtle as they may be. These can be a slowing down of behaviour or movements, strong emotionality (overreaction, for example, when he or she is not allowed to do something or bumps into something) or becoming particularly fidgety. Keep observing your child to be able to react early and to be able to spend the Christmas season in a relaxed way.
Don’t hesitate to move your child’s bedtime to an earlier time, or to extend the bedtime, as needed, to give your child extra time to settle down before bedtime. You can always do your bedtime routine at normal time including getting them into their On The Move baby sleep bag then if they aren’t ready for bed just pop their feet out to play and they’ll be ready to go straight to bed when they finally drop.
Allow more time
It can take about 10-20 minutes on an average day for a child to fall asleep. They need this time to process their thoughts and calm down. On exciting days and with the anticipation of Father Christmas coming, it can take much longer. So give your child a little more time to lie down to sleep during this special time.
Fun is the key!
Christmas time should be the best time of the year for your child. Therefore, try to plan a good mix of fun and excitement and the necessary buffer for extended bedtime, naps or breaks. This way you can experience the highlights of Christmas together and save yourselves a lot of Christmas stress.
And don’t forget: your Christmas stress is also passed on to your little one. So relax! No one expects the perfect meal, creative gifts or ten different kinds of homemade Christmas biscuits. Just focus on enjoying maybe even the first Christmas with your child and stress less about your own or your loved one’s expectations. Christmas is the festival of love and that should be the main focus!