6 Tips to Enjoy the Holidays without an Overtired Baby

6 Tips to Enjoy the Holidays without an Overtired Baby

By Kensey Butkevich

I am going to share with you my tips on how to actually enjoy the holidays without an overtired baby! I am a Certified Sleep Coach, Board Certified Behaviour Analyst and founder of Sleep Easy Clinic. I help children sleep more & teach new skills to decrease their behaviour! 

Let’s face it, holidays are fun but trying to keep your baby on a schedule is near impossible. You are running here and there and if you only went places between naps and feedings you probably wouldn’t even leave the house. 


Below, I am sharing my Top 6 Tips to enjoy the holidays this year without an overtired baby. 

  1. Extra Support for Overstimulation: 

Holidays are a perfect example of overstimulation for babies. There are large crowds, music, bright lights and decorations, not to mention being passed from one person to the next. Check for signs your baby is overstimulated and provide extra support to soothe them. 

Common signs of overstimulation: 

  • Turning head away

  • Crying yet difficult to soothe (Crying will vary in intensity and duration)

  • Falling asleep at odd times

  • Fighting sleep

  • Stretching, waving arms, kicking, clenching fists

  • Wanting to nurse or suck even though they are not hungry

Common culprits of overstimulation:

  • Being passed from one person to another

  • A large group of people

  • New faces

  • Loud noises 

  • New environment

  • New spaces

  • A lot of movement in the environment


What you can do:

  • Change the environment, a quick and quiet diaper change can do wonders

  • Talk quietly and soothingly to your baby, sing a song they know and love.

  • If your baby has been passed around, go get them and keep them for a while

  • Rock your baby gently in your arms, even if you’re sitting on the couch or floor

  • Turn off loud noises and dim the lights if possible; use white noise

  • Remove some toys or presents so they can focus on one or two at a time

  • Babywear with skin to skin

  1. Extra Time: 

Be consistent with your normal routines but give extra time to help your baby calm down and connect with you. For example, if a bath is a part of your routine, let your little one stay in longer and gently pour warm water over their body. It is important to note that you do NOT want to change your routine but just lengthen some of its aspects to give your baby more time to calm down. 

  1. Early Bedtime: 

You are going to have some “crap naps,'’ those naps that are short, under an hour or maybe your baby tossed and turned and was never able to fall asleep or you missed nap time altogether. If one of those things happens, bring in Early Bedtime for the win! Your baby is going to be tired and their bodies will thank you for this early bedtime. 

Did you know it is just a myth that an early bedtime leads to an early morning? If your baby is waking early it is likely due to another reason. 

  1. Release Control: 

You cannot control everything. Your schedule is going to be off during the holidays. Like I mentioned earlier if you tried to plan holiday activities between naps and feedings you would never leave the house and what fun is that? Release control over the schedule - don’t let sleep rob you of the moment! Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy your little one’s firsts and your family and friends getting you to see your baby, maybe even for the first time. My next tip will help you release that control! 

  1. Follow 80/20 Rule:

Follow the 80/20 rule this holiday season and you will be much more relaxed. This rule means 80% of the time you follow your schedule and 20% of the time you leave room for flexibility like outings and holiday gatherings. If you do a great job 80% of the time at home with your baby following schedules and having great routines it will be much easier for your baby to adjust when you’re on the go. A major key is to keep the routine the same, or as much the same as you can so your baby knows what to expect. For example, if you are spending the night away still go through your same bedtime and naptime routines so your baby has that consistency and knows what to expect next. 

  1. Travelling:

If you are travelling this holiday season it is important to plan ahead and pack everything you need to replicate the sleep environment as closely as possible. Having the same sleep associations as their home environment will help with the transition and make them feel more comfortable.

  • Darkness - SlumberPod, sheets or blankets, foil, garbage bags

  • Sound machine - Use the same settings you do at home

  • Sheets from home - The feel and smell is comforting

  • Comfort items if 12-months+

  • Bath items - Soap, toys, tub, hooded towel

  • Sleepsack/swaddle - Check out the forecast so you know how to appropriately dress your baby for sleep

  • Monitor and charging cables

  • Lotion/Massage Oil

  • Bedtime Book

  • Anything else used in your bedtime routine

  • Don’t forget teethers and baby Tylenol. 

Holidays are meant to be fun. They were when we were kids but somewhere into adulthood, they became stressful. I hope this year you think about these 6 TIPS and you allow yourself to be worried about one less thing. Practice the 80/20 Rule, follow great schedules leading into the holidays and then allow yourself to be flexible, release control over the schedule and enjoy the holidays. Don’t let sleep rob you of the moment! 




 Kensey is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst & Certified Child Sleep Consultant with over 12 years of clinical experience in parent coaching. She empowers parents in supporting their children's sleep needs taking into consideration a child's temperament, development, & parent values and goals. Kensey believes that sleep shaping is about supporting children in a way that complements their unique progressions, so you can feel restful not stressful.