Managing your child’s sleep over the holidays

With the holiday’s approaching, many parents with young children or those who’ve just started sleep training their child or baby are worried they might regress a little over the holidays.

Between travel, the excitement and constant attention, the holidays are the easiest way to throw your hard work out the window. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. With some strategic planning, you can keep your routine on track.

There are two major distractions over the holidays: travel and family and friends.


If you’re thinking about starting sleep training but you have a trip soon, I suggest you wait until you’re back. If you’ve already started, not to worry. If you can maintain most of your routine, you should be able to pick up where you left off. If you’re driving to your destination, one trick is to schedule your driving time over baby’s naps. Car naps aren’t ideal but they’re better than no naps. If possible, start driving around the time of baby’s first nap. You can even look for parks or attractions that are on your route to stop at when baby gets up. It’s a great way to get active and will make the next nap easier.

Everyone knows that planes and babies don’t mesh. If you’re flying, do whatever gets you through the flight with minimum fuss. If baby doesn’t want to sleep on the plane, they just won’t. So don’t stress over it too much. Just do whatever needed to keep baby content. If baby sleeps that’s a bonus!

Bring the comforts of home. If you use white noise, sleep sac, lovie or special blanket for an older child, bring it with you! Recreate their regular sleep environment as much as possible. This means make sure wherever you’re sleeping, make sure it’s dark. I travel with garbage bags and painters tape to cover up windows J Call me crazy, but my 3 year old and 8 month old sleep like champs. Everywhere.

Family and friends

In a car or plane, everyone wants baby to sleep. But, now that you’re at Grandma’s house, everyone wants baby awake so they can play with them and take a thousand pictures. It’s exceptionally difficult telling them that you’re putting an end to the fun because baby needs to sleep. But trust me, they won’t be awake with your baby at 1am, and 3am and 5am when your baby is waking as a result of being overtired from missing naps and having a late bedtime. On that note, an 8 month old does NOT need to be at Christmas dinner if dinner happens at 7pm. Put baby to bed. Don’t second guess yourself. Then sit down and enjoy a nice glass of wine with your Christmas dinner.

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’s giving you a hard time that your child goes to bed early because they need more sleep than we do. Plain and simple.

I know it sounds harsh, but the alternative is an almost immediate backslide. Baby misses a nap, gets all fired up because of all the new faces and activity, then over-tiredness kicks in, cortisol production goes up, and the next nap is ruined, which results in more over-tiredness which derails nighttime sleep, and before you know it, you’re headed home and it seems like baby did nothing but cry the entire trip.

So, now it’s time for bed. The only catch is that, with all of the company staying at the house, there’s only one room for you and baby. What I suggest is simple – make one room into two. Hang a blanket or set up a dressing screen. Or, this may sound crazy but, a decent sized closet is also a great place for baby to sleep in a pack and play. It’s dark, quiet and they won’t be distracted. Try making the situation as close to normal as possible.

It may sound like a lot of work, but I encourage you not to stress. With some planning, you can enjoy time with family and friends AND still ensure your child is getting the sleep they need.