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Tips To Get Your Baby Sleeping Through The Holidays
Sleeping through the holidays is easier said than done. There are planes involved, disrupted nights and family excitement over the baby; all these aspects can change how your little one is sleeping. Gentle Sleep Consultant, Marta Neto, has her top tips that have worked for parents she has worked with.
While the nation is dreaming of a White Christmas, parents going on holiday are simply hoping to sleep over the holidays.
I want us ALL to enjoy the holidays with our children, so today I treated myself to a Candy Cane Hot Chocolate (yes, parents can definitely have them!) and reflected on what parents have told me have been my most useful travel tips.
Put your seat belts on sleepy parents and let me start with some holiday cheer…
If your baby is keeping you up,
going on holiday can actually help solve
sleep associations your baby has at home.
See it as a clean slate!
As with all other excursions involving a baby, preparation is key.
Multi-Sensory Portable Sleep Environment Check List
Forget the extra pair of ski boots! For a good chance of a good night sleep pack a Multi-Sensory Portable Sleep Environment! Using your baby’s senses is a sure way of helping them feel safe and cosy anywhere in the world.
1) Touch- The Holy Grail of sleep is ‘Cool Room, Warm Body’. Keep the room to 18c and invest in these MORI beauties:
Zip-Up Sleepsuit, Sleeping Bag and Blanket.
- Soft bedding from home
Have them in the cot for a few days so they already have your baby’s wonderful smell
- Comfort object
Soft toy, blankie, muslin.
- White noise app/CD/toy or machine
- Bedtime book and lullaby
Start reading a short bedtime story and regularly singing a lullaby before you go on holiday to help your baby create a sleep association.
- Organic Lavender Essential Oil
Put a couple of drops in the bath and on the cot sheet, start doing this before you travel
-Blackout blind (or tin foil and blue tac!)
-Red or Orange Nightlight
Choose battery operated so you can use it anywhere!
Top Tip: If your baby sleeps in a cot at home, hire a travel cot or, better still, take one with you. You can help your baby sleep in the travel cot for a few days before you travel. Encouraging your baby to sleep in a travel cot whilst away will make it easier to readjust to life back at home.
- Organise your baby’s travel bag. Stick to essentials and be prepared to search for items with one hand and in a tight space!
- Taking off? Enquire whether you can take the carseat into the plane or book a bassinet. And whatever you do, keep the pram with you until departure. Helpful airport staff will try to convince you they are doing you a favour by checking it in. In fact, you will be doing them and everyone travelling a favour by keeping it!
- Once on board, encourage sucking and chewing to reduce ear ache caused by cabin pressure
- Babies often fall asleep the minute the engine starts and don’t wake up until it stops. If that’s your baby, put their cosiest Snugsuit on and travel during the night so their sleep hours aren’t disturbed (and you can listen to your favourite Christmas Carols in peace, bliss!)
Alternatively, set off early in the morning. If your baby sleeps for an unheard number of hours, you will still have a portion of the day to get back on track before bedtime. Be prepared to delay bedtime, but worry not! Just pass your bundle of joy around for that age-old Christmas game of Kiss-The-New-Baby-In-The-Family-As-Loudly-As-You-Can (Spoiler alert! Great aunt Gretta will win).
- Choose soft, comfortable clothes that are easy to change. Zip-Up Sleepsuits are perfect for young babies who need regular changing whilst for older babies 2-piece outfits are perfect as you can just remove one piece if needed.
- Try to feed at regular times. Missing feeds during the day will mean waking up for additional feeds during the night
On-route Entertainment Top Tip: Your little darling will drop his or her toys again and again. To save your back, attach a piece of string to a few small toys! Bring this clever trick out for Christmas Lunch and impress your family with your parenting skills.
It will take your baby less time to recover from jet lag than it takes you, here is what you can do to help.
- During the day, encourage lots of activity and expose your baby to sunlight. In the evening, make the room as dark as possible. This will help your baby’s body adjust its circadian rhythms so that they wake and sleep at the appropriate time for the Time Zone you are in.
- If you’re traveling somewhere with three hours or less time difference or for a short holiday, keep your child on your home Time Zone by feeding at the same time you would at home and making full use of the blackout blinds
After weeks of preparation, you’ve made it! Happy Holidays! Now you can just relax.
- On arrival focus on you and your baby. Spend a little time reconnecting, give them time to adjust. Show them their surroundings, set up their sleep environment and gently encourage them to spend time there. Stay close, have a play and a snuggle. This will create positive associations with the sleep environment you carefully prepared. It will also help you both to relax and look forward to bedtime
- Be flexible during the day, after all, you’re on holiday
- Allow extra time for the bedtime routine. Your baby will need time to wind down from all the stimulation and extra attention. Retreat to your room and spend time cuddling, singing and relaxing
- Be prepared to have a few disrupted nights, especially if you’re travelling between time zones
Top Tip: If you’re on holiday with loved ones take full advantage! Spend quality time on your own or with your partner. Being a parent is a full-time job and you deserve a break
There’s no place like home… For your baby, the best aspect of being back at home is that you have more time to cuddle and play. On your return, spend time showing your baby their lovely room and encourage them to spend awake time in their cosy cot with you nearby. Gently work towards the routine you had before you travelled but allow for a little disruption to start with. If you were considering making changes to the routine, now is the perfect time.
Top Tip: Leave the laundry for now, rest when your baby rests. Be kind to yourself, you are home now.
I hope you had fun x
For tips on keeping your baby sleeping safely, you can see these guidelines.
Marta Neto is a baby sleep consultant that focuses on implementing gentle strategies to help little ones sleep. The methods are evidence-based, gentle, effective, safe and take into account the child's age, health and temperament. Marta has a Psychology degree, is an NCT Antenatal Teacher and has over 10 years of experience supporting parents. You can find out more about Marta Neto's services here or on her Facebook page.
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