The festive season is approaching and preparations are underway! Excitement mounts as anticipation of the big day snowballs… Little ones can easily become over tired with all the extra excitement surrounding the festive season; so here are some practical tips to help maintain good sleep for your little ones – that’ll help keep everyone rested over the holidays!
- Try to maintain your bedtime routine; your familiar routine is a clear series of predictable steps to sleep time which helps little ones wind down and prepare for sleep… amongst all the excitement it will keep bedtime calm and predictable for them. See my October post for more details.
- Use a nap time routine; shorter than your bedtime routine, but containing all the important predictable cues that will help the wind down to much needed naps!
- Try to keep consistent wake-ups and bedtimes – weekends and holidays too! This helps to keep baby and young children’s sleep and daily routines as consistent as possible, which in turn helps maintain and reset their biological clock daily, supporting regular healthy sleep.
- Maximise the impact of light and dark; exposing little ones to light first thing in the mornings will also help set their biological clock. The sleepy hormone melatonin is triggered by darkness, so make sure lights are dimmed during your pre-sleep routines.
- Activity and playtime in the fresh air every day helps release tension and prepares growing bodies for sleep!
- Be aware of how food may influence sleep; highly processed foods can stimulate and fatty foods may cause digestive difficulties. Sleep inducing foods include healthy carbohydrates, foods containing calcium and tryptophan, so good sleepy food options include eggs, wholemeal toast, turkey, whole grain cereal, milk, bananas, pitta breads…
- Think about using white noise!! This is just brilliant for masking all those unusual festive noises… whether they are parties next door, friends in for drinks, reindeers on the roof, sleigh bells and Santa coming down the chimney!
- Reduce stimulation at bedtime by keeping the bedroom a calm place;
avoid lots of colourful decorations and putting exciting new toys in the bedroom… keep it calm and relaxing.
For more information about food and children’s sleep:
Pantley, E. (2005). The No-cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers. New York: McGraw Hill.