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8 tips to keep your little ones sleep on track this holiday season!

This is the time of year when all the fun happens but often brings about some stress and chaos too. We want to keep sleep as smooth as possible for our little ones over this time and here's my top 8 tips to help with this:

1) Try to maintain your same consistent bedtime routine. Our bedtime wind down rituals are even more important at this time of the year amongst the chaos. Doing the same things (totally skip the bath and just use a warm face cloth wipe down if needed) but ensure a good feed, into their pjs, into a dark sleep space, white noise on, sing that same song and pop them down into bed. The same pattern and order of which you do things provides so much security to our little ones - especially in new environments.

2) Take your little ones pj’s with you if you are heading out later in the day just incase you end up staying later out and about. If festive fun creeps later and later, pop them in their jammies and read them a story, so if they do fall asleep in the car on the way home, a transfer isn’t such a drama and they are all ready to go straight back to sleep when you get home. Rather than getting home and them getting a second wind as you get them dressed ready for bed!

3) Take your little one’s unwashed cot or bed linen from home to use while away. I know it's tempting to take fresh bed linen or wash those cuddlies and loveies before hitting the road - but for our little ones they love and need those familiar smelling items from home. Bring those familiar smells of home and comfort with you - it can truly make a difference to how well they sleep!

4) If you are heading away and need to share a room with your little one who isn’t used to sharing with you, then it can help to create an illusion of space between you. Create a visual divide if you can, you could pull up a chest of drawers in front of the portacot, rearrange furniture so you aren’t in their direct line of sight. Even use a clothes horse to drape up a sheet! Creating this illusion of space between the two of you can help mimic their sleep environment at home. We have used ensuites and even a walk-in wardrobe for our kids' sleep spaces when away from home and it works a treat! Sometimes we need to get a little creative and adapt to new environments to make sleep easier on everyone.

5) Use white noise if you aren’t already - this is such a game changer! You can use white noise when camping, travelling in the car, planes and especially if you are sharing a room whilst on holidays. This acts as an amazing buffer from external noises and helps lull our babies back into sleep cycles as well as being a positive sleep association! Don’t leave home without it!

6) Don't forget about the early bedtime option!

If your little ones have skipped a nap, or you know tomorrow brings a busy overstimulating day, then don't be afraid to bring bedtime earlier! Maybe naps have been on the go and shorter than usual - CUE: Early bedtime! By earlier I mean even 5.45/6pm - YES!

This is one of those aces we carry in our back pockets and can pull out when things have been a tad crazy. You won’t regret the early bedtime option - get them nestled all snug in their beds dreaming of those sugar plums.

7) Have a practice nap or sleep in the portacot if you haven't used it already (learn from my own mistakes of turning up to places late and trying to work out how to put a tricky portacot up). Practice the set up and give your little one a nap or two in it beforehand.

8) Managing expectations with family over the festive season can be hard. I’m giving you permission to be that parent who fiercely protects their little ones sleep or puts a halt to the baby being passed around every family member and is so overstimulated in the process! You CAN say NO! “Sorry I need to settle my baby now” “The toddlers had quite enough sugar now” etc! You are your little one's best advocate and you know what they can and can’t handle. I know my own family thought I was bonkers trying to darken the room when away and using our blaring white noise machine. It’s not helpful hearing ‘there was no white noise in my day and our babies did just fine’ or ‘my babies always slept on their tummy, why don't you try settling them on their tummy because they sleep better that way”. I know there is SO much conflicting information out there and we can start to second guess ourselves, but stick to your guns. You know what works for your family so keep it up even if there are those awkward conversations.

And finally, sleep may not be perfect during this busy season but don’t let that steal one moment of your holiday joy! This is a precious time, slow down and soak this time up. Remember your little one will pick up on your vibe so if you are worried and stressed around their sleep and settling, they’ll likely follow suit. Do your best to stick to your usual routine, but you can bend the rules and allow for flexibility and remember what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! There will be plenty of time to get them back on track when you home and if you have found things have derailed, get in touch and we can talk.

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