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How to get the kids to sleep at Christmas

Children's sleep expert Emilie Caro has some helpful holiday hints to get babies and children to wind down during the festive season and we've found some products to help ease them on their way to the land of nod too!

How to get the kids to sleep this Christmas

How to get the Babies and Children to Sleep at Christmas

The festive season is literally around the corner and although it’s great fun to experience the holidays through your child’s eyes, whether it’s their first Christmas, or not, getting them to stick to their bedtime routine can be tough.

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The longer break, extra family members around and of course, all the excitement, lead to many babies, toddlers and older kids becoming sleep deprived. Changes and disruption to their usual routine, mean less sleep, making them grouchy enough to become our own little Grinches!

Whether you have travel planned, lots of later than usual events or friends/family coming to stay, these helpful hints should help get EVERYONE through the Christmas season, feeling more rested, relaxed and refreshed for the New Year ahead.

  • PLAN YOUR DAYS

As much as we all want to kick back and enjoy the holidays try to organise your family activities and when to do them. For example any high energy activities or events that will cause additional excitement are better earlier in the day or before nap time. Try to get outside earlier in the daytime too, a wintery walk, dropping off gifts, a play at the park or, even a winter treasure hunt will help you all get some much needed some fresh air. Besides the outdoor learning it will really help youngsters to burn off some physical energy that can work wonders when it comes to bedtime. Plan to wind down and take it easier after lunch and early afternoon, think Christmas films, some baking or crafts. Come early evening and before bedtime settle everyone into a calm atmosphere by choosing relaxing activities like reading Christmas books, building puzzles, or even some mindful colouring.
  • STICK TO YOUR USUAL ROUTINE & DON’T SKIP NAPS

It’s tempting to relax the rules over the festive period – but stick to your usual pre-bedtime routine as much as possible will be better in the long run. Whether it’s a story, a warm bubble bath, some relaxed playtime – do whatever you usually do to get them ‘ready’ for bed.  On Christmas Eve you may think this is the one night where you should allow your children to stay up later and enjoy ‘the night before’ – you know your child, so do what is best for them but we say stick to your usual routine if you want a quiet(ish) night and a calm Christmas Day.

The same goes for nap times during the holidays, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day too. Even with the busier days and children getting more stimulation than usual, which can in turn make them seem less tired — do not be tempted to skip naps with the hope of a better night’s sleep. The right quality of sleep is key, so making children over tired will not help. In fact, the opposite of often true!

  • KEEP CHILDREN IN THEIR OWN BEDS

You may find it harder than usual to to settle them at bedtime and/or during the night, but don’t be tempted to bring children into your bed or into a new environment like in with a sibling or spare room to make space for staying guests. This can easily become habit and start happening on your return home/after the festivities are over.

  • ALLOW EXTRA WIND DOWN TIME

If you are entertaining or visiting friends, spend some extra quiet time in your child’s room with them, before bedtime. The extra excitement of the holidays can mean children need more time to calm down before they sleep, especially if they have consumed more sugary treats than usual!

  • DON’T USE FATHER CHRISTMAS AS AN EXCUSE

Threatening that the big man won’t come might seem like a good idea at the time when you’re at the end of your tether  but it can often create chaos, arguments and cause unnecessary upset. Try to stay calm and just acknowledge that your little one are feeling overexcited, instead try saying something like: “I understand how exciting is it that Santa is coming tomorrow and it’s all very thrilling but it’s not ok to…. throw toys, hurt your sibling, be rude. Let’s go for a walk/do some crafts/some baking/ and get ourselves ready for his visit.” 
  • HANG THOSE STOCKINGS

You may choose to keep their stockings out of the their bedrooms, as the thought of a ‘stranger’ even if it is Santa coming into their bedroom in the middle of the night might actually cause some anxiety for toddlers and younger children. Plus, do you really want to disturb them with your additional rustling as you try to creep in quietly (and stub your toe on the cot/bed!) to fill them up? Get around the questions by explaining to your child that stockings can be left downstairs, on the fireplace, or even outside their rooms. Knowing that Father Christmas won’t be coming into their personal environment will allow them to feel safe and secure, as well as ensuring they don’t use this as an excuse to prolong going to sleep, stay awake and therefore cause a restless night.

 JUNIOR EDIT: 5 Products to Help Babies and Children Sleep Better at Christmas Time

A tasty natural berry flavoured drink (sweetened with tooth friendly xylitol) to help promote a sense of calm for a relaxing evening routine. >> Relax and Unwind Drink for Kids, £15.75 for 10 sachets, Higher Nature

Passion fruit flavoured vegan bedtime gummies to promote natural sleep. They are generally safe for children aged over the age of three with no medical conditions. The serving size for children is one gummy a night. >> Bedtime (5-HTP), from £14.99 YUMI

This gently scented spray with Sicilian lavender, ylang ylang and jasmine will help soothe and calm your baby before bed, helping them to sleep well and dream big. >>The Very Hungry Caterpillar Baby Pillow Spray Duo Pack, £16 Bloom & Blossom

Help your little one prepare for a calm and relaxed bedtime with these bath fizzers. Enriched with nourishing organic coconut oil and delicately scented with soothing lavender, chamomile and vanilla to encourage a calm and restful slumber. >> My Little Coco Sleepy Head Bath Fizz, £6.99 for 4, Boots

This calming camomile tea, infused with sweet spearmint, a hint of lavender and relaxing lemon balm has been especially blended by Small & Wild for keep little ones happy, hydrated and ready for bed. Each bag makes one big cuppa, or for two to share. >> Snoozy Fox Herbal Camomile and Spearmint Tea for Kids, £4.95, Small & Wild

Tips written By Emilie Caro Sleep

How to get the kids to sleep this Christmas

Having completed both a BSc (University of Manchester) and MSc (London School of Economics) in Psychology, Emilie worked for eight years in Human Resources, with a particular focus on Occupational Psychology. Following the birth of her children (3 boys aged 8, 6 and 4), Emilie became very interested in the domain of children’s sleep and the psychology surrounding this.

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She qualified in 2011 as a certified children’s sleep consultant in order to practice formally in this field and is a member of the British Sleep Society and the International Association for Sleep Consultants. Additionally, she has travelled extensively with her children and can give advice on jet lag and how best to cope with schedule changes. Emilie has helped numerous families with a wide range of sleeping problems and is regularly recommended by the paediatric department at the St John & St Elizabeth Hospital in St John’s Wood, London. She is known for her kind and gentle approach and always follows up until the issues are fully resolved. For more information, sleep packages and to read her blog visit Emilie Caro Sleep