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Jingle All the Zzzs: A Parent's Guide to Stress-Free Holiday Sleep

kids with holiday lights

The holiday season is upon us, and for families with little ones, it often means packing up the car or hopping on a plane to visit relatives or friends. While the festivities can be exciting, the prospect of disrupting your child's sleep routine and dealing with well-intentioned but potentially unsolicited advice from naysayers can add an extra layer of stress. As a pediatric sleep consultant, I understand the importance of a well-rested child and want to share some tips on how to navigate holiday travels while prioritizing your child's sleep—and how to kindly turn down any unwanted advice.

  1. Plan Ahead: Before embarking on your holiday journey, create a plan to minimize disruptions to your child's sleep schedule. Consider travel times, time zone changes, and any adjustments needed to accommodate different sleeping arrangements. If possible, choose flights or travel times that align with your child's usual sleep schedule.

  2. Bring the Comforts of Home: Help your child feel more at ease in a new environment by bringing along familiar sleep items, such as their favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or bedtime story. Familiar scents and routines can signal to your child that it's time for sleep, even in a different setting.

  3. Stick to a Sleep Routine: Maintaining a consistent sleep routine during your holiday travels can be challenging, but it's essential for your child's well-being. Try to stick to the usual bedtime rituals, whether it's reading a story, singing a lullaby, or a warm bath. Consistency will help signal to your child that it's time for sleep, regardless of the location.

  4. Educate and Communicate: When faced with naysayers who might question your approach to your child's sleep, take the opportunity to educate and communicate. Share with them the importance of consistency in your child's sleep routine and how it contributes to their overall health and well-being. Gently explain that you've considered your child's needs and have a plan in place.

  5. Be Polite but Firm: It's not uncommon for well-meaning friends and family members to offer unsolicited advice about your child's sleep. While it's important to be polite, you can also be firm in communicating your choices as a parent. Let them know that you've consulted with a pediatric sleep expert (it's okay to throw me under the bus) and have a plan that works for your family.

  6. Create a Restful Environment: Whether you're staying at a relative's house or a hotel, try to create a sleep-friendly environment for your child. Dim the lights, maintain a comfortable room temperature, and minimize noise. If needed, consider using blackout curtains to help create a darker sleep environment.

Traveling during the holidays with a little one doesn't have to mean sacrificing their sleep. By planning ahead, sticking to routines, and communicating your approach to well-intentioned naysayers, you can ensure that your child enjoys the festivities while still getting the rest they need. Remember, a well-rested child is a happy child, and your commitment to their sleep routine is an investment in their overall health and happiness. Safe travels!

If you need help getting back on track when you get home, you know where to reach me!


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