Holiday Events vs Baby’s Schedule: How to find a balance

The holidays are a wonderful time of year where family, friends and loved ones all get together to share food, laughter and in my house, wine 😉  As special as it is, it may also be challenging to keep your little one’s schedule completely on track while you’re all bouncing from one event to another, everyone eager and excited to see the baby.  On the one hand, if the schedule is too rigid, than we miss out on all the holiday fun but if we completely throw everything out the window, we end up having to deal with an exhausted, fussy child which creates stress for Mom or Dad (and your little peanut!) Here are a couple of holiday tips on how to strike a balance between enjoying all the season has to offer, without completely abandoning your child’s sleep routine. 

  1. Know your child: Some babies and children are quite easy going and adaptable.  If a nap is missed here and there or bedtime is later than normal, they bounce back with ease the next night and all is merry! Other children though, may have “high sleep needs” or do not deal as well with fluctuations in the schedule or missing much needed sleep. It may mean major meltdowns or upset emotions the following day so you may just need to determine whether the event or function is worth it. You know your child and their needs best, so stick to your gut instinct and don’t be afraid to say no to some and yes to others depending on your priorities and their temperament. 

  2. Staying close to the schedule:  Parts of the routine will definitely fall by the wayside during the holidays- and that’s ok.  Try to stick close to your schedule if possible though, because missing all daytime naps and having a late bedtime will likely turn your sweetie pie into a different child filled with tears, fussiness and tantrums.  Not only that, you (and even more so your child) will pay for it the next day when your little one is over-tired making it harder to return back to the regular schedule after the holidays.  This is a slippery slope which can quickly turn into a number of sleep issues such as night wakings or difficulty at bedtime. So, although the schedule will look different over the holidays, do what you can to keep some parts as close to normal as possible. 

  3. Recently resolved sleep issues are sensitive to inconsistencies: If you have recently worked on or resolved your little ones sleep challenges, keep in mind that your child will be impacted by changes to schedule and routine more so than a child who has deeply ingrained healthy sleep habits.  These children will probably bounce back from these changes a bit more easily, but if you have recently (in the last 3 months) put in a lot of effort and time into helping your little one over-come sleep issues, all your hard work may go out the window if you completely disregard their sleep needs.  

Tips for keeping to a familiar sleep schedule: 

  • Try to plan activities between naps.  If that is impossible to do, consider timing so that babe can get some shut eye in the car or in a stroller or carrier.  If your baby is taking two naps, it is wiser to miss the afternoon nap and go for an earlier bedtime than it is to skip the AM nap. Morning nap usually sets the tone for the day and if you’re able to do an earlier bedtime, baby should not become so over-tired that it is impossible to get them to settle for nighttime sleep. 

  • Try for a reasonable bedtime whether out or on the go: If your little one is a great sleeper in the car, try to time it right that she will fall asleep at bedtime on the drive home and then you can transfer her into bed.  If she doesn’t sleep well in the car, bring along a pack ’n play and a few familiar bedtime items and put baby down where you are.  As familiar to bedtime at home as possible will help in an unfamiliar environment so include sleep sac, lovey, pjs and familiar book etc.

  • Try for a longer (or later) afternoon nap so that he is able to stay up a little bit later in the evening without becoming over tired.  With a later nap, you may be able to have him up at the party/function and then come home and put him to bed a little later than normal with no issues. 

Most importantly, we wish you a safe, healthy and joyous holiday season.  Enjoy this special time with loved ones and have a Happy New Year!