Holidays with baby: Surviving the break with a little one
Coming into this holiday season you don't want to be glued at home, worried about your baby's schedule. Nor do you want to ignore your baby's sleep needs entirely and end up with an overtired, cranky wee thing who isn't adding to the Christmas spirit!
In this article, we're sharing some tips to minimise the stress and disruption this holiday season, while still getting out and about or enjoying your vacation:
- How to recreate your baby's sleep environment
- Managing naps while on holidays
- What to do if your baby is not sleeping
Keep your baby’s holiday sleep environment familiar
If your baby is used to sleeping in a dark room, take portable black out blinds with you or be prepared to rig some dark sheets over the windows to replicate their usual sleeping space at home.
Take a portable white noise machine or load up your iPad with your baby's normal white noise tracks. If you don't already use white noise, it might be a good time to start! We have a range of great white noise tracks HERE.
White noise is extremely comforting for babies, especially babies who are overstimulated or overtired; it helps them zone out and drift off to sleep. It is also awesome at masking any environmental or household noises that might wake a sleeping baby.
Take the current sheet and blankets off your baby's bed and use them in their portacot or holiday bed. This will be very comforting and familiar to your baby because it'll have exactly the right feel and smell as being at home.
Take any existing sleep associations, such as comforters/cuddlies, pacifiers, sleeping bags or swaddles.
Avoid adding anything too exciting or stimulating or new in your baby's sleep environment such as musical toys or a new game - they can play with these things when they're awake!
Continue to offer your baby or toddler naps while on holiday
The easiest way to cope with the social calendar this season is to have your baby in a good predictable rhythm to their day to begin with. This will mean you are better able to plan ahead and work around your baby's sleeps where/if possible.
It also means if you have to be traveling or visiting during their nap times, your baby will be so used to napping at that time they are far more likely to happily nod off while you're out and about, rather than you having to fight them to go to sleep! If you're driving for an extended period of time, aim to do it in your baby's nap/bed-time and let them sleep in the car.
Offer naps at the normal nap times for your baby or toddler, wherever you may be at the time. If they're established in a good sleeping pattern they will still want to nap at the normal times and this consistency will help them stay happy and stave off any overtiredness during these busy, exciting days.
If your little one is in a nap transition period, about to drop one of their naps (between 6-8 months then again around 12-15 months), keep the extra nap in there for a wee bit longer. It will mean you're more likely to be able to enjoy an evening out as your baby will be able to stay awake a bit longer before bedtime and they'll have the chance to catch up on any missed sleep from the day or night before.
But what if my baby won't sleep on holiday?
If your baby skips their naps or doesn't nap for as long as they normally do, don't sweat it! In the first instance, work off your baby's awake times to shuffle the rest of their day around. Our Sleep Programs have comprehensive troubleshooting notes to get you through any nap disasters!
If your baby is already established in a good nap pattern and things go a bit awry, it's not going to undo all your hard work just by having a bad few days, so hang in there and do the best you can.
If your little one is overtired or overstimulated at the end of the day and bedtime turns into a battle, do WHATEVER it takes to get them to sleep - patting, rocking or cuddling to sleep, wearing them in a carrier or taking them out in the stroller or car. Tomorrow is a new day and you can start afresh!
A few final tips...
Go easy on your baby!
Remember babies get overstimulated really easily and as exciting as this festive season is for you, it's 100x more stimulating for them! Don't feel embarrassed about whisking your baby out of the arms of well-meaning friends and family when it's nap time, or spending some quiet time alone with your baby in a peaceful room. They will need some downtime during this busy, busy season and you're their calm place!
Go easy on yourself too
You're doing an AMAZING job! And you deserve some time to relax and enjoy this wonderful time of year. Ask for help if you need it - ask hubby or your mother to take the baby for a walk for their nap so you can chill out on the sofa with a good book. Enjoy having more pairs of hands around to take some of the pressure off you and remember how valuable grandparents, aunts and neighbours can be when it comes to entertaining a grumpy baby!
To give your baby the best chance of sleep this holiday season, or to get their sleep back on track afterwards, our Sleep Programs are the place to start. If you need more personalised guidance and support, we also have certified sleep consultants available day and night in our Little Ones Village.