When I pictured my baby’s first Christmas, I envisioned him meeting relatives for the first time, happily playing with his gifts, and peacefully snoozing while I enjoyed my long-awaited Christmas meal.
Spoiler alert: While all of this technically occurred, the actual experience was a far cry from the relaxing day I had planned.
In reality, my son got overstimulated by all the new people, refused to nap and ended up screaming through the big family meal. By the end of the day, my husband and I had vowed never again to celebrate Christmas until he was a teenager.
And we’re not alone. Most families look forward to the holiday season, full of family traditions and Instagram-worthy moments. But many also struggle to keep their little ones’ sleep on track during such a hectic month. So for all you new parents, here are my top tips to conquer the Christmas madness while keeping your baby well-rested and happy.
Know your baby. While some little ones are flexible sleepers, others struggle mightily if they miss a nap or go to bed late. Take your baby’s sleep personality into account and plan your Christmas activities accordingly.
Don’t go overboard with the festivities. December is a time full of holiday parties, family gatherings and visits to Santa’s grotto. It’s easy for adults to wind up feeling overscheduled, exhausted and overwhelmed–so imagine what it’s like for our kids. Pick and choose your activities carefully, privileging those that work within your child’s existing sleep schedule.
If you need to skip a nap, do so wisely. Most babies will do better if the first nap of the day is at home in their cot, so prioritize that one. If your baby does skip a nap or generally has a crap day of sleep, be sure to put him down early for bed so he can avoid building up a sleep debt during this busy time.
Involve guests at bedtime. Around 6-7 months, most babies start to develop a serious case of FOMO and won’t easily go to bed if new, fun people are at their house. To avoid a prolonged bedtime battle, invite your holiday visitors to get involved with the beginning of the bedtime routine (e.g., reading a bedtime book or stopping by the nursery to say goodnight). Bonus tip: Threaten to withhold eggnog to any guest who gets your baby riled up before bedtime–that’s the last thing you need!
And if all else fails… keep calm and carry on. Do what’s necessary to get through the holidays with both maximum sleep and maximum enjoyment. If sleep spirals out of control,, set your New Year’s resolution to work on it as soon as January 1st rolls around.
This article was originally published on MORI.