It’s the busiest season of the year and you are exhausted, so why won’t your baby give you a break and just sleep! They may have been a great sleeper, or they may have always woken during the night, but now they have just upped it to another level! I’m going to explain some of the reasons why babies sleep can become non-existent over the Christmas holidays and let you gain some understanding because I’m a true believer that knowledge can be power. It allows you to accept what is happening and help your baby, making for a calmer experience for everyone.
So, why may your babies sleep be disrupted?
· Natural daily rhythm disrupted. Pre and post.
· Environment changes - new surroundings
· Over stimulation – people, noise, smell, temperature (from being held often as well as it being summer)
· Lack of good quality feeds – baby may be distracted. Less milk as you are so busy not eating and resting enough. Perhaps faster feeds as you want to get to the next thing so potentially finishing a feed prematurely.
· Sensitive baby picking up on your stress and anxiety.
· Plus, all the normal and usual developmental changes that babies are going through, teething etc
So, what can we do to help?
First of all, don’t blame yourself. It is completely normal, and everyone goes through it, but some babies are not affected as much as others.
Try and ensure that you and baby get some quiet time during the day even if you both get FOMO (fear of missing out). Ideally it would be just a rest in a bedroom tucked away with a great feed and a snooze, but if that’s not possible a quiet walk just the two of you or something similar.
Try and keep the bedtime routine the same. Babies like to understand and know what is coming and part of this is creating a solid bedtime routine as a basis. This needs to be a time for calming down and relaxing not with people coming in and out. If your baby doesn't have a bedtime routine yet, then no problem, just carry on as you normally do.
Routine or the natural daily rhythm of the day can be disturbed for some families throughout December as you try and catch up with friends squeeze in Christmas shopping and parties. Having a day completely out of whack is not a problem but if you have a crazy day or two aim for a couple of more normal days following so baby can catch up on some sleep. Remember though that all sleep is good so don't stress if they are catnapping.
Travelling over the holidays is so much fun for everyone and is a great way to get your baby used to new surroundings and travelling in the car etc. Just be aware that it is very stimulating for your baby so they may get tired sooner. Watch for their tired signs and don’t be surprised if you see them earlier than normal. You may also have a baby who really struggles to fall asleep in a new space as they want to play and carry-on socialising. Be calm and if after 15 minutes of trying to get them to sleep (this does not mean 15 minutes of letting your baby cry) they are still wide awake take them out have a play and try again later or take them for a walk. Often the motion of walking can be enough to help a baby fall asleep either baby wearing or in a pram, whatever you and your baby prefer.
Christmas is about getting together with loved ones, family and friends. For a baby this means lots of added stimulation. It is a lot noisier with more people around. If going to other people's homes there are new smells, sights and sounds for them. It is natural that they are going to enjoy cuddles with lots of people so they may overheat or become warm. Just be aware that the stimulation is going to make your baby tired so again watch and monitor your baby reacting to their needs.
Babies feeds can be disrupted, it may be that they are snacking more rather than getting a solid feed. Your milk supply may be slightly impacted due to you being busy.
· If your baby is little stay home and do trips out to family/friends nearby if you can or get them to come to you, but they can bring the food/bedding etc and look after you rather than the other way around. Only problem with this is it may be hard to find your own space and you may need to hide in the bedroom at times – depends on your family and the relationship you have with them.
· Watch your baby. Look for their cues for hunger and tiredness.
· Ensure you get some time out for you and baby!
· Make sure you drink lots of water and get some proper meals in as well as chocolates!
· Enjoy the festive season and just be prepared for some restless nights – which may or may not happen. If they are having a restless night be patient and attentive to your baby and feel safe in the knowledge it won’t last forever.
Have a fantastic festive season with lots of love, laughter and amazing memories. Happy Christmas!