Holidays – How to Get Your Baby Back into Their Sleep Routine
Rule number one on holidays with a baby is that the usual daily routines go by the wayside. And rule number two is the gnawing sensation that when the holidays are over, you’ll all have to get back into the grind of everyday life.
You’re Coming Too...
When small children have come along on the vacay there’s added pressure for everything to resume its usual pattern once home. Young children especially, don’t do too well with unpredictability and tend to prefer the same old same old. Boring as this may be for the adults, the truth is that if the kids aren’t happy then no one in the household is. There’s often a sense of needing to just settle everyone in once home, for things to be unpacked, washing to be done and everyone going back to what’s familiar and works.
Read on to learn what you can do to encourage your baby to go back to their usual sleep routine.
What Makes Holidays Such a Pain When it Comes to Babies Sleep?
- Different cot and sleeping arrangements.
- Different sleeping environments – more light, more noise, room sharing.
- More time in the car seat and/or the pram.
- Changes in daily routine – being out and about, the baby falling asleep in the pram or car.
- Changes to feeding routine and types of food.
- Time differences and managing jet lag on return.
- Trying to keep the baby quiet so they won’t disturb other people.
- Parents relaxing and wanting to give themselves a break from their usual settling practices. If this has been a constant challenge, the relief can be significant.
Remember - You Have Choices
- You can throw all your usual routine out of the window when you’re on holidays and just go back to normal once home.
- You can be a little more relaxed on some things like daytime sleeps, but stick with the usual for night times.
- You could follow your baby’s lead and see how flexible they are when you’re away. They might surprise you by just wanting to follow their same pattern as at home. Easy peasy...
- Not starting practices you’re not keen to continue once home. Many parents resort to co-sleeping when they’re away from home and their usual rules are more relaxed.
15 Ways to Get Your Baby To Go Back to Their Pre-Holiday Sleep Routine
- Give yourselves a day or two to recover, especially if you’re jet-lagged.
- Work consistently with your partner so your baby is getting the same clear, unified messages.
- Build up some energy before embarking on full-on settling management, you may find our Sleep and Settling Tip Sheets useful.
- Know what you want to achieve and have clear goals for yourself and your baby.
- Think about your baby’s experience and how they’re going to adjust back into their old routine.
- Start settling your baby the old way for daytime sleeps and then when they’ve improved, tackle the night time routine.
- If you’re motivated enough, settle your baby the same way for both day and night sleeps as soon as you return.
- Stop co-sleeping if you started this habit when you went away.
- Consider making other changes at the same time. If you’ve been thinking about moving your baby’s cot out of your room, then do this at the same time you revert to previous settling routines.
- Aim for a quiet time in the household without too much else going on. Try to be home for your baby’s sleep times and avoid being out and about too much.
- Look for your baby’s tired signs and settle them when they’re looking tired.
- Try not to follow a strictly timed schedule. Your baby is more likely to settle easily and sleep for longer if they’re genuinely tired.
- Be prepared to wake your baby if they’re sleeping for long periods in the afternoon. If they’re at the age and stage where they were having longer overnight sleeps before your holiday, then encourage them to resume this pattern again.
- Wake your baby if they’re sleeping in for a long time in the mornings. Don’t be too quiet as you go about the house and make a little more noise so they wake at their usual, pre-holiday time.
- Offer your baby feeds and meals at their usual times. Provide them with their usual diet and avoid ‘snacking’.
If you’re struggling to get back Into the Normal Routine speak with your Child Health Nurse about options. Check Safe Sleep Space for some more insights around specific settling methods.
- Your baby will follow your lead. Though this may take time, they will eventually learn that the holiday fun is over and it’s back to the real world.
- Be consistent and patient as you support your baby to settle and sleep as they did before the holiday.
- Don’t expect too much too soon. Small people often take their own sweet time to learn something new. And for them, it may well be a whole new pattern of settling which they need to adjust to.
- Holidays are always worth a little disruption. The benefits of going away and have a break generally outweigh a little adjustment when home. Think of the big picture and stay focused on the positive.
The Safe Sleep Space website has a variety of resources and supports to provide tips and advice on how to assist your baby with sleep. You can download our free “Soothing Sounds for Sleep” Music Track based on an understanding of the meditative effect of multiple sound layers found within nature.
The Nourish Baby - Guide to Babies - is an online program that you can view in your own time. The Guide to Babies helps you to understand and care for your baby and covers key milestones, sleep and settling advice and baby development. There is a section on real parents sharing their experience of adjusting to parenthood.
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Written for Safe Sleep Space by Jane Barry, midwife and child health nurse.
About Safe Sleep Space
Safe Sleep Space is Australia's leading infant and toddler sleep consultancy. Known for our gentle and response-based approach, our team of child health nurses, midwives, and early childhood educators have been supporting children and families since 2008. As a result, parents and professionals alike turn to Safe Sleep Space for knowledge relating to infant and toddler sleep