How to keep your baby’s sleep schedule over the holidays – 6 tips for a stress-free Christmas season

How to keep your baby’s sleep schedule over the holidays – 6 tips for a stress-free Christmas season

For many, Christmas & New Year’s Eve is the best time of the year – and for some, the most stressful, too. 

Celebrating with colleagues, friends and family, getting and wrapping all the gifts, planning the holidays and much more can quickly skyrocket your stress level. 

Suddenly there is hardly anything left of the peaceful Christmas spirit or the excitement to celebrate the arrival of a new year. 

Adding a baby or toddler to the mix and well, your stress level will easily go through the roof.

In order to avoid all that stress and anxiety, and instead spend a relaxed holiday with your loved ones, we have collected six important tips for you.

This way you will be able to keep your baby’s sleep schedule as much as possible intact and the whole Christmas holiday season will be so much more stress-free and enjoyable for everyone.



1. Don’t put too much on your plate

Sure, everything should be perfect for these special days. And you probably don’t want to cancel a celebration or appointment with friends and relatives either. 

However, a full schedule screams for stress and stands in the way of truly enjoying this time of the year – and that doesn’t just apply to you, but also to your baby or toddler.  Your stress and hectic pace will spread to your baby as well.

Remember, fewer and more intensely savored experiences have a higher value for everyone. 

So set priorities and clearly decide which dates and gatherings are most significant for you. Then only attend these in order to reduce your stress level to an acceptable level. Don’t let friends or relatives put you under pressure, but stay true to your priorities – for the sake of yourself and your child.


2. Planning is half the battle

Planning well is half the battle – this is especially true for Christmas and New Year’s Eve with a baby. Whether it’s getting gifts, attending Christmas mass, the festive menu or trips during the Christmas holidays – try to plan everything as much, and as much in advance, as possible. 

However, keep in mind that even the best of plans can lead to unforeseen incidents. Therefore, prepare yourself for this too – for example, by planning generous time windows or alternatives. Talk about traditions with your partner and find out what is important to both of you. You may also create a new, very own Christmas or New Year’s Eve tradition this way. However, do not wait until just before the holiday, but start a few weeks in advance.

Better timing means less stress and more serenity for you, which automatically is transmitted to your baby. The more relaxed you are, the calmer your baby will be. Good organization is the key to a stress-free holiday celebration with children, and should therefore be given top priority. This guarantees a harmonious and calm atmosphere, and this is ultimately the most essential thing for your baby.


3. Follow the 80/20 rule for naps

Part of being realistic is knowing that things won’t always work out no matter how you plan. A stress-free approach is to adopt the 80/20 rule. This way you’ll be able to pretty much stick to your little one´s sleep schedule while leaving wiggle room for those unplanned, missed-nap moments. The 80/20 rule means sticking to your baby’s routine 80 percent of the time, and then being okay with things going awry 20 percent of the time. This might mean letting a nap slide for special occasions or making sure your little one will get their first nap of the day in, if you’re not sure whether they’ll get a restful second nap.


4. Invite family and friends over to you

Do you traditionally visit your in-laws on Christmas Day? This year, it may be better if you invite people to your home. This also applies to other visits to relatives and friends. If they come to your home instead, it will not only save you a lot of stress but also your baby. 

At home, you and your baby will feel safe, and you have your well-known routine and structures you can always fall back onto. 

All the new faces and unknown voices of the aunts and uncles provide more than enough fresh impressions and excitement for your baby, so you don’t need to add a different and unknown environment. 

Of course, you have the extra work of cooking and cleaning. But this way you can put your baby to bed (even if a bit later than usual), and they can fall asleep in their familiar surroundings. There will already be enough new things to see and hear, so your baby will be very happy, when at least some things are “known”, like his or her own bed and room.

Apart from that, a visit with a baby is always associated with a lot of effort – from packing baby food, lots of cloths and diapers, to the cumbersome transport of the stroller. It is often easier and nicer for everyone involved if you invite them over to your house this time. 

Particularly important: Make sure that your baby’s needs always come first, and that certain traditions can therefore be interrupted. If your baby is crying and whining, it can sometimes help to take him or her to another room. A change of scenery, some peace and quiet, and rocking in mum’s arms usually work wonders. 

And don’t think that inviting family and friends over will mean that you have to serve a perfect 5 course Michelin star menu, and prepare and cook for days in advance.

You can kindly ask your guests to contribute something to the feast. I am sure they will gladly agree to take care of the starter, dessert, some delicious drinks, or snacks.


5. Stick to the tried and tested

You recently saw such a great recipe for an original holiday roast, and you’re itching to try this out at Christmas? Better not, because it won’t help anyone if you end up fighting in the kitchen while your baby is crying for you and your partner is busy with the preparations or guests elsewhere. Such a scenario can easily be avoided by keeping the holiday menu as simple as possible and only including tried and tested dishes in the menu plan. It is better to cook a well-tried Christmas menu in a relaxed manner instead of turning up the stress several notches through culinary experiments. Everyone benefits. 

In addition, your baby will be most happy about his usual food. Until the age of three, you will not trigger a storm of enthusiasm with the festive roast. Christmas cookies, which are already gladly accepted as sweets at this age, have better chances.


6. Plan your church visit well

For many, going to church is a fixed point and perhaps even the highlight of the Christmas celebrations. Everything is different with a baby – including going to church at Christmas. Up to about three years of age, it can be a better option if someone stays at home with the baby while the others go to church. Another possibility would be for mom or dad to go for a walk with the appropriately warmly wrapped children until Christmas mass is over and everyone goes home together again. From the age of three, children especially like to attend the Christmas services that take place in the afternoon.

Have you already celebrated the holiday season with your baby, or will it be their first one? Please tell us about your experiences and exchange ideas with other readers in the comment area! Or tag us in your cute holiday baby pictures on Instagram @thesleepingbabyproject

p.s. If you like to chat with us about your child’s sleep challenges, then please contact us for a free 15 min evaluation call. We are happy to help!

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