Summer is here and that means warmer weather, longer days, BBQs, and trips away for a lot of us.
For those of you with little ones, protecting their sleep during this time can be tricky. Early morning risers wake even earlier with the sunshine, the heat makes it difficult to sleep, and settling difficulties in the evening are common.
Here are my top four tips to help you stay on track this holiday season, whether you’re at home or away.
4 Holiday Season Sleep Tips
Let their be light
The sunnier evenings and mornings are a lovely aspect of summer, but it can make settling little ones difficult and early rising more frequent than you’d like! So, you need to use the sunlight and darkness to your advantage and help influence your child’s biological clock.
I’ve spoken about serotonin before (the hormone produced in sunlight) which coverts into melatonin (the sleepy hormone) at night, or in darkness.
By exposing your baby or toddler to some evening sunlight after their dinner, but before their bed time ritual, you can naturally help them to settle faster in the evening, and sleep later in the morning. Give it a go and see for yourself how Mother Nature can help us in this way.
But embrace darkness too.
Sleeping your baby or child in a super dark environment will help tell their body it’s sleep time, and help them produce melatonin.
After using your sunshine in the evening ensure their room is as close to pitch black as possible (a dim red night light might be necessary for toddlers). This will help them settle faster, and sleep later in the morning.
If you haven’t already, invest in some blackout blinds so that no light can sneak through. There are some great options that will help you create a completely dark environment in minutes. And don’t forget tin foil which can be used for any sneaky gaps. Be sure to pack some if you’re heading away.
Try to maintain a routine
It’s not always fun (especially when you’re out enjoying yourselves) but maintaining sleep at roughly the same time every day is going to help your little one to consistently sleep better. Try to keep their rest times at the same time each day if they still have day naps.
Part of the fun of family travel is the break from routine. But a break from routine can affect how much sleep children get. Even if you can’t always keep up your children’s usual sleep routines, there are a few things you can do to make it more likely that children will sleep while you’re travelling. Probably the most important thing is to make the environment as familiar as possible. So be sure to pack your child’s favourite cuddly toy, pyjamas and blanket.
The later nights and naps on the go that happen when travelling are ok occasionally. However just watch that their schedule isn’t thrown out too many days in a row. Their little bodies need to get good restorative sleep. When you travel it’s normal for there to be some ups and downs. Just try to be as consistent as you can, and when you get back home get things back on track as quickly as you can.
Beat the heat
Yes, it’s true that in Australia (particularly Melbourne) you can expect four seasons in one day! But when it’s hot, it can get REALLY hot. And babies and heat are not a good combination. If you have cooling in your home, that will help. You want to try and keep your little one’s room between 18-20 degrees. I remember my mum used to use the old fan and wet towel trick. Another top trick is place a frozen bottle of water in front of a fan can act as a home made air conditioning unit, cooling the room down more than just a fan alone.
Some parents worry about the noise of a fan in the room but this can act as a good white noise – which babies love. Just don’t point the fan directly at your wee one, remember our body temp drops when we sleep so we don’t want them to then get chilly.
A tepid (not cold) bath before bed can help cool your little one down. Following this have some relaxing time so they don’t get excited and heat up again
If you’ve noticed your little one’s sleep going down hill, please get in touch with me so I can help. Sometimes all that’s required is a little more planning around whatever you’ve got going on to ensure you don’t lose precious sleep this holiday seaso