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Managing Your Child’s Sleep Routine At Christmas

Managing Your Child’s Sleep Routine At Christmas

Christmas is the time of year when our homes come alive with scented candles, bright lights, and all sorts of noises from dancing Santa and the likes. It is a time of year when routines often go out the window, what with various visitors calling, visits to be made, and gifts to be purchased. With all the excitement of the Christmas season, we often overlook the impact this can have on our little children’s sleeping patterns.
 

How does your home environment during the Christmas period affect your child’s sleeping patterns?


All stimuli in your young child’s environment are processed by your child’s developing brain. Their brain is still immature and not yet able to process what an adult brain can. This means your child’s brain is very prone to becoming overloaded quickly which in turn can cause irritability, tantrums and over tiredness.

All of these impact on your child’s ability to get over to sleep and have a good night’s sleep. Your child’s brain receives information from the environment around them, including the sensation of touch, movement, noise, visual and smell. Constant exposure to dazzling lights can result in the visual sensation becoming overloaded and your child can become overwhelmed. The same goes for exposure to sudden loud noises, like singing decorations or Christmas trains.

When your young child is overwhelmed, it is more difficult for them to unwind in preparation for sleep. Also, when your child is already overtired, exposure to extra stimuli can be just too much for your child’s brain to cope with. The result can often be delayed sleeping and frequent waking.

What can you do to help your child cope, and ensure they get a good night’s sleep?

I would recommend being extra vigilant of your child’s signs of tiredness. When your child shows signs of tiredness, it is best to have your child in a quiet environment in preparation for sleep. Some signs to watch for are, rubbing face, rubbing eyes, losing interest in what is going on around him, yawning and whining. Keep a consistent bedtime routine over the holiday season. This will help unwind your child in preparation for sleep and ensure your child does not become overtired. Try not to expose your child to too many Christmas stimuli at the one time. Introduce the singing Santa for example for a few days and let your child get used to the noise and moving object before introducing the dazzling lights on the Christmas tree.

Gradual exposure will help your child’s brain adjust and therefore be more tolerant of the change in the home environment over the Christmas period. During the festive period get into the habit of turning off the tree lights and quietening the environment before your bedtime routine with your child. This will have a positive impact on your child’s readiness for sleep. With all the extra shopping, which needs to be done in preparation for Christmas, try to avoid bringing your child to the shopping center when they are tired.

All the extra noise, lights, and people will just be too much for their little brain. If you can, have someone mind your child at home, or plan your shopping trip for earlier in the day. Try not to delay bedtime as this will result in overtiredness, which in turn will result in difficulty getting over to sleep and getting a quality sleep. With a little preparation and forethinking, both you and your little one can have a fun time and still maintain those good sleeping patterns over the Christmas period.
Help your little one get to sleep with our Baby Bedtime Lullaby Playlist on Spotify.

Do you have any other tips for managing your child's sleep routine at Christmas time? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Fiona O’Farrell is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, specialising in baby development, premature babies and is an experienced sleep consultant, validated by the department of health. For information on workshops and sleep consultations visit fionaofarrell.ie or Facebook. Call Fiona on 0879144323

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