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Maintaining your Child's Sleep Schedule on Holidays

With the holiday season here, many parents who have recently gotten their babies sleeping on a schedule are worried that they might regress a little over the holidays.

Understandably so!

Between the excitement, travel and all the extra activities, the holidays are the single easiest way to throw all your hard work out with the Christmas wrapping paper!

I am happy to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. With some strategic planning and iron will, you can keep that carefully orchestrated routine running just the way you did at home.

So, there are two major obstacles you face when dealing with your little one’s sleep over the holidays. One is travel, and the other is family and friends. I’m going to approach these topics individually.


If you are thinking about starting sleep training, but you’ve got a trip booked in a few weeks’ time, my suggestion is to put the training off until you get back.

If it’s too late and you’ve already started the training with an upcoming trip, not to worry. Try and maintain as much normalcy as possible while you’re away and when you get home you and baby should be ready to get back to business!

If you are driving to your destination, I recommend scheduling your driving time over baby’s naps. Car naps aren’t ideal, but it’s much better than baby not sleeping at all! So, if possible, get on the road right around the time that baby would normally be taking their first nap.

If you’re really committed, you might even look for some parks, tourist attractions, or other outdoor activities that are on your route where you can stop when baby gets up. It’s a great chance to get out into the sunshine and fresh air, which will make that next nap that much easier.

If you’re flying, I wish you all the luck in the world!

It’s no secret that planes and babies just don’t seem to like each other, so I suggest (and this is the only time you’ll hear me say this) that you do whatever gets you through the flight with a minimum amount of fuss. Hand out snacks, let them play with your phone, and otherwise let them do anything they want to do.

The truth is, if baby doesn’t want to sleep on the plane, they’re just not going to. If you force it, it’s just going to be frustrating for both of you and chances are, for everyone else around you! Just get through the flight.


So, you’ve arrived and hopefully you’ve managed to keep your sanity.

Now, I’m sorry to say, comes the hard part.

In the car or on the plane, everybody is on your side, right? Keeping baby quiet and relaxed, and hopefully asleep, is just what everyone is aiming for.

However, now you have made it to the grandparent’s house and it’s just the opposite. Everyone wants baby awake so they can see them, play with them, take thousands of pictures making baby ridiculously overstimulated. It can be exceptionally difficult to tell all of these friends and family members that you’re putting an end to the fun because baby needs to get to sleep. I feel the tension in the room just writing this!

So, if you need permission to be the bad guy, I’m giving it to you right here and now!

Don’t negotiate, don’t make exceptions, and don’t feel bad about it.

Firmly explain to anyone who insists “I’ll just sneak in a take a quick peak,” that you are in the process of sleep training, and you are not taking any chances of them waking up. Let them know when baby will be getting up and tell them to hang around, come back, or catch you the next time. Or better yet, tell people in advance when to expect some baby time based on baby’s schedule.

This might sound harsh, but the alternative is an immediate backslide right back into day one. Baby misses a nap, is over stimulated by all these new faces and activities, overtiredness kicks in, cortisol production goes up and the next nap is a disaster. This derails bedtime and nighttime sleep and before you know it you’re heading home exhausted and it seems like all baby did was cry the entire trip!

Not the kind of holiday you were hoping for hey?

Trust me, I am not exaggerating. It happens that quickly.

Okay, so you’ve jumped that hurdle and everyone knows you’re not budging on baby’s schedule. She took her naps at the right time and now it’s time for bed.

Now the next issue is, there’s only one room for you and baby.

That’s no problem, right? Bed sharing for a few nights isn’t the end of the world, after all.

I am sorry to say but unfortunately, this is not the case. Babies can develop a real dependence for co-sleeping in as little as one night.

So, if you’re sharing a room I suggest making it two rooms. Hang a blanket, dressing screen, or put baby in the walk-in robe.

A decent sized walk-in robe is actually an IDEAL place for baby to sleep. It’s dark, quiet and she won’t be distracted by being able to see you, and people walking in and out of the room are much less likely to distract her.

While we’re on the topic of ‘no exceptions’ these rules extend to all other sleep props. You might be tempted to slip baby a dummy or rock her to sleep if she’s disturbing others in the house. Take my word for it, baby will latch to this very quickly and before you know it you will be waking up every hour or two, rocking her or putting her dummy back in. This will disturb everyone worse than half an hour of crying at 7pm. Not to mention, when your trip is done and you are back home, you’ll be back to square one.

Now, on a serious note, I find the biggest reason that parents give in on these points is, quite simply, because they’re embarrassed. There’s a house full of eyes and they’re all focused on the new baby, and by association, the new parent.

The worry that everyone is making judgements about how you’re parenting can be overwhelming. However, you need to remember the most important thing is your baby, your family, and their health and well-being.

No doubt there will be a few people who feel jaded because you put baby to bed just when they just got in the door, however remember you are doing what is right for YOU and YOUR family.

So, stand tall Mumma and remember that YOU are in charge and are a superhero, defending sleep for those who are too small to defend it for themselves.

Ignore them. You’re on a mission!

Contact our sleep consultant today to book your free introductory consultation.


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