You have had a wonderful time away, creating happy memories in the sun, on the beach, with the family and now back home and life resumes as normal…or what you hope to be normal but it does not quite work out like that.
While away on holiday schedule went out the window, you had a go with the holiday flow approach, lazy mornings, naps on the go, late lunches and later dinners out to enjoy the holiday vibe. Perhaps your baby was sleeping in the bed with you which was not the plan but it just worked out that way or your toddler had a few extra stories at bed time and needed you to be with them to fall asleep because they were unsure of their holiday bedroom…
Now you are home and your baby can’t seem to settle as easily as before you went away without being in your bed, or pushed around in the pram. Perhaps your toddler wants to stay up later for family dinner because hey, why not, it was so much fun n holiday and of course he needs you to be in the room to fall asleep. When he eventually does fall asleep…
Getting a child's sleep schedule back on track after a holiday can be challenging, but with some consistency and patience, you can help your child readjust and get back what you had before you went away.
Here are some of my trusted tips to help you:
1. Gradual Transition: If you can you may like to start the transition a few days before your holiday ends. Gradually shift your child's bedtime and wake-up time closer to their regular schedule in 15-30 minute increments each day until you reach the desired times.
2. Maintain a Consistent Bedtime Routine: Reinstate the familiar bedtime routine that your child follows before they go to sleep and I am talking about that bedtime routine you had going before you went away on holiday. (Not sure what that bedtime routine should look like? Check it out HERE!) This may include activities like taking a bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music. Consistency, doing the same thing every day and evening will help signal to your child that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
3. Dark and Quiet Environment: Create a sleep-friendly environment in your child's bedroom. Make sure the room is dark especially in the spring and summer months when the sun is up early. Ensure the bedroom is quiet. You can use your noise machine to block out any external sounds. A comfortable temperature will also help but this can be hard. Check out my tips HERE to help this happen. Consider using blackout curtains or a nightlight, depending on your child's preferences.
4. Limit Screen Time: Avoid exposing your child to screens 60-90 minutes before sleep, such as TVs, tablets, or smartphones. The blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with sleep patterns. Encourage calm and quiet activities instead, like reading a book or engaging in a relaxing quiet activity like puzzles, drawing or a small world play.
5. Stick to a Schedule: Establish a consistent sleep schedule for your child if you did not already have one before, including regular bedtimes and wake-up times. Consistency helps regulate their internal body clock and promotes better, healthier sleep. Even on weekends, try to maintain a similar sleep routine to minimize disruptions just until you get to a happy consistent place with sleep.
6. Gradual Adjustment of Naps: If your child's napping schedule was affected during the holiday, gradually adjust their nap times to align with their regular routine. Shift nap times in small increments until they are in line with the desired schedule.
7. Daytime Routine: Ensure your child has a well-structured daytime routine that works and will be dictated around those naps. Engage them in activities that promote physical exercise and mental stimulation during the day. This will help expend their energy and encourage better sleep at night and give you more predictability each day. Children thrive on routine and it is as much for them as it is you.
8. Be Patient: It may take a few days or perhaps up to 10 days for your child to fully adjust to their regular sleep schedule. Be patient and understanding during this transition period. Consistency and a calm approach will help your child adapt more easily and quickly!
Remember that every child is different, and what works for your child may not work for another. Pay attention to your child's cues and adjust the strategies as needed. If you continue to face difficulties with establishing that routine and naps are not working out it may be helpful to book in a call with me to have a chat about how I can help you and give you some tips for guidance!
Peaceful night and naps to you all,
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant