Holidays have a way of disrupting routines. You may be going to bed later, eating at different times, and going out more. During the festive season, babies’ sleep routines are also easily thrown out of whack.
Perhaps Grandma stayed with you and rocked baby to sleep in her arms instead of putting them in their crib. Or, naps have been taken in the car on the way to different events. Bedtime might have come later and later.
First of all, it’s okay! Life happens and routines shift. You can get your little one back in their routine for better feedings, nighttime sleep, and naps.
Here are four tips to get your baby’s routine back on track:
- Make Wake Windows Exciting And Playful
Playtime is so important for a number of reasons.
When your little one is playing, they are developing their motor skills and learning how to work in the world around them. Playing with you or other babies helps them develop social and language skills; when they’re stacking rings and grabbing blocks, they’re developing their intellectual and problem-solving skills.
Activity also impacts your baby’s sleep quality. New Michigan State University research suggests that babies who are less active and have less playtime sleep less.
If possible, take your little one outdoors, too.
- Get Some Outdoor Time
Natural light has a big impact on the quality of sleep your baby has. According to a study by the Journal of Sleep Research, babies who slept well at night were exposed to significantly more light in the early afternoon.
Take tummy time outdoors by laying a blanket down outside with their toys. Prepare for the weather – put on sunscreen and try and set up in the shade, or bundle up if it’s a bit chilly.
If it’s too cold to stay outdoors for a long time, a simple walk around the block can also have a positive impact.
Babies can overheat quickly, so the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests not taking babies outside for long periods of time if the heat index is greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the flip side, -15 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold to venture outside.
In these situations, open up the blinds and curtains to let natural light in.
- Get Those Anchor Feeds Down
Sleep affects feedings, and feedings affect the quality of sleep your baby has.
The anchor feed is the perfect way to start your day with your little one. It’s how you can set up a routine you can rely on.
If your days always start at different times, you can’t plan anything – you don’t know when your baby will take their first feed or go down for a nap.
The anchor feed is that first feed when your baby wakes up after their nighttime sleep. You’ll treat every feed before the anchor feed as nighttime feeds and all feeds after and including the anchor feed as daytime feeds.
Wake time follows the anchor feed, then a nap, followed by another feed.
An anchor feed is the foundation of your baby’s routine and an optimal way to start their day.
- Don’t Continue With Holiday Habits
“To encourage a sleep schedule, your baby’s naps should take place in a consistent sleep environment,” says Today’s Parent. Put them in their crib in a cool, dark room. To block out sounds, a white noise machine helps (this one is one of the favorites).
Keeping your little one awake throughout the day in an effort to force them into long nighttime sleeps again isn’t going to help at all. This can lead to overstimulation which makes it more difficult for your baby to fall asleep.
“Naps help counteract sleep deficit at night and support his overall health and development. So while adults can skip their naps, daytime dozing isn’t optional for baby,” says What To Expect.
Those activities you did to let your baby know it’s time to wind down? Do them again each night. A bath with lavender body wash, a lullaby, a baby massage – whatever it is that helps your baby relax, do it leading up to their nighttime sleep.
Don’t worry, Mama, your baby’s sleeping pattern will soon be back on track after a few days of consistently following their routine.
If you’re trying to work out a routine for your newborn, download my free recommended routine for babies two to six weeks old.