We've all been there. Christmas is hectic. It’s one of the busiest times of the year for many and it's easy to let your usual routines slip a little. And why not? Routines with your baby should be flexible enough to allow room for extra visits from friends or relations or later nights. But what happens if it all becomes too much? Here are three tips for dealing with an over-tired baby at Christmas...
Tip One: Follow your baby’s sleep cues
Firstly, it's important to be able to recognise when your baby is over-tired – and it's not always that easy! Some babies can keep going right up until the point of no return and then they drop with a bang, while others will quickly become whiny and grumpy! So, keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms of sleep and act as soon as you spot them.
- Early stage: eye rubbing, ear pulling and yawning. Realistically, this means it's bedtime, as you have got to fit in some of their nap or bedtime routine. Don't let it go any further!
- Second stage: your baby may try some self-soothing strategies, such as sucking her thumb or resting her head on a surface.
- Third stage: if you haven't yet picked up on your baby’s previous sleep signals, your baby will move on to some more serious sleep cues. She may start hiccupping, sneezing, breathing more quickly, fussing and of course crying.
- Final stage: it's too late. Your baby is already over-tired. Signs of this stage include crying, fussing, refusing to play, refusing to feed, arching her back, kicking her legs and screaming.
Tip Two: Avoid over tiredness
This seems simple and it is, as long as follow your baby’s cues. Pay attention to your baby’s tiredness signals and get your baby into their crib or cot at the first stage.
If this isn’t possible, for example if you're out, make sure you have packed your SnoozeShade so that you can create a calm, dark and cosy nook for baby to sleep in. If you're at home, change your plans slightly so that your baby can nap in her room. If you're away from home visiting family or friends, either cut your visit short or ask if you can have half an hour to settle baby to sleep in a quiet room – either in the pushchair or a travel cot. SnoozeShade for cots is a clever product to take with you so that your baby can sleep easily wherever you are.
Tip Three: Getting your over-tired baby to sleep
You may have missed the first sleep cues, especially if you are surrounded by people at a family gathering, so as soon as you realise that you have missed the early opportunity to get your little one to sleep calmly and quietly, take some action. It’s not always easy but it can be done. Here are some ways to help an over-tired baby get to sleep.
- Swaddle her
- Rock her
- Hold her
- Feed her
- Make sure the room is dark or darken the cot or travel cot with your SnoozeShade
- Play white noise
- Take 15 minutes to wind down before putting her down to sleep, so that she is relaxed and calm. Baby massage is a good idea too.
- Read a book in a dimly lit room
- Rock her
- Feed if it is feed time
- Sing a lullaby or play white noise
In both cases, it’s important that you use your usual bedtime routine techniques to calm your baby down, make her feel she’s in a familiar place and encourage sleep.
Remember that babies need a lot more sleep than we do, and when you're busy it's easy to forget the usual routine and carry on with whatever you're doing. Remember; your guests will wait, your baby will not.
Read our guide to baby's routine over Christmas here. Good luck!