Speaking of holiday fun — have you ever found yourself simultaneously blessing and cursing the holiday plans you’ve made? There’s lots to enjoy this time of year, between the parties and the dinners and the special events. But all that enjoyment also tends to mean wacky schedules for your little ones – especially when the fun leads to late bedtimes.
So, if there’s a holiday event that you really, really want to attend, but you’re reluctant to disrupt your baby or toddler’s schedule – what do you do? Do you enjoy a flurry of holiday activities, and end up with a grumpy and over-tired little one? Or do you prioritize bedtime and miss out on the action?
Should You Keep Your Baby or Toddler Up Late, or Simply Stay Home?
This is a tough question, because the answer depends so much on unique factors, like your baby or toddler’s personality and sleep needs. So ultimately, this is one of those decisions that’s best left to you. We’ll just supply some information and point out some considerations to help you make that choice.
So, with that said – here are the factors you’ll want to consider in deciding whether or not you should bring the kids along to that family Christmas party:
- Is your baby or toddler adaptable enough to handle the schedule change? Adaptable babies are more likely to accept schedule changes without too much fuss, while slow-to-adapt babies tend to be much, much less forgiving when it comes to disruptions to the routine.
- Does your baby or toddler have high sleep needs? Some babies and toddlers are able to get by on less sleep — they tend to make up the lower end of those ‘sleep average’ numbers we sometimes highlight in our blog posts and e-books. However, other babies and toddlers have higher sleep needs – they tend to need more nighttime and naptime sleep than other kids their age.
If your baby or toddler is pretty adaptable, and will do okay with a little less sleep than normal, then having a night or two of holiday fun probably won’t make much of a difference in your little one’s demeanor. However, if your baby is slow-to-adapt, and has higher sleep needs, then even one ‘off’ night of less sleep may produce Mr. or Ms. Cranky Pants the next day!
What To Do After Your Baby or Toddler Stays Up Late
If you do decide to enjoy some late nights over the next week, bear in mind that there may very well be some aftermath to deal with the next day (some exhausted, fussy aftermath!) Here are a few tips to help your baby or toddler make up for lost sleep, and get back on track quickly:
- Let your baby or toddler sleep in the next morning, but be prepared for early rising. Obviously, if your little one sleeps past his normal wake-up time — let that happen! But it might not; remember, babies and toddlers who are overtired actually tend to wake early, so it may be that your late night causes an earlier-than-normal morning wake-up.
- Make the first nap earlier. The first morning nap tends to be the most restorative, so consider moving it up in the schedule (especially if your baby or toddler seems cranky or tired before the normal nap time).
- If your toddler no longer naps during the day, insist on a rest time. Even non-napping toddlers may be extra sleepy after a late night, so firmly insist that your little one spend an hour or so in bed, with toys and books. This way, if she is feeling sleepy, you will have set the stage for sleep.
- Limit nap time, if it goes really long. Remember, babies and toddlers will shift sleep from nights to naps (and vice versa). So if your baby or toddler is napping way longer than usual, that might mean less sleep at night — and that’s not a cycle that any parent wants to start in motion!
Do you have holiday plans that will mean late nights for your little ones? How are you planning to cope?
Are sleepless nights and interrupted naps the unwelcome guests in your home this holiday season? Let us help you make it a merrier Christmas and a happier New Year!
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