Tips for overcoming sleep challenges that come with the summer months
By Jess Hudson with SleepShop Consulting
Summer is upon us, which brings sunshine, fun times, travel and often times a looser schedule. These are the things that make summer great, but also things that can disrupt infant sleep. Below are some tips to survive and thrive this summer!
1. Don’t let Mr. Sun ruin your sleep
There are two key ingredients to good sleep: a dark environment and a cool environment. More sunshine and warmer temperatures can inhibit both. If you’re suddenly struggling with early morning wakings or short naps, be sure your baby is sleeping in a dark and cool room. Sleep is lighter for naps and early mornings, so these things, in addition to a noise machine, are extra important.
The Baby Dream Machine can help so much during these times:
The pink noise is extra calming and can help especially during those lighter times of sleep when babies can easily wake from outside noises.
The cool mist humidifier is perfect for ensuring the room is nice and cool and also not so dry from the air conditioner running.
2. Keep sleep on track even with a flexible schedule
Part of the fun of summer is getting outside, going to the pool or barbeques with friends. Often times these mean a missed nap or late bedtime. That’s ok! Here are some tips to ensure getting off schedule doesn’t ruin your baby’s sleep:
While you may not be able to keep your baby on his or her sleep schedule that day, do be sure to stay on a feeding schedule. Missing a feed can cause disruptions in night sleep.
Shift naps around to get your baby sleep just before leaving and once you get home. Don’t worry about the time on the clock so much – focus on cumulative daytime sleep hours.
If you’re going to be out late, add in a catnap later in the day. This will ensure that your baby gets the rest they need, but also will help ensure your baby is happy during that fun get together!
3. Get ahead of overstimulation
All of these summer activities, travels and outings can bring a lot of new faces and places. It can be exhausting for us, but it’s extra overwhelming for babies. They are easily overstimulated, which can cause them to be fussy and overly tired. Giving the baby a break from the stimulation and also being mindful of wake windows can help – here are some tips:
If you’re out and about, try giving your baby a break from the stimulation by going to a dark and quiet place, wearing them or putting a cover over the stroller even if it’s not naptime.
Once you get home, your baby may need a break that doesn’t necessarily mean sleep. Going into the nursery, turning on your Baby Dream Machine and even diffusing a calming oil is a great way to give your baby a reset.
The mental stimulation that comes with new sights and sounds can exhaust your baby. This may mean a shorter wake window or earlier bedtime is necessary – this is ok!
4. Be mindful of sleep needs that come with extra physical activity
There’s nothing better than the naps and nighttime sleep that come with summer activities! Extra sunshine and time in the water make for sleepy babies. Watch for those sleepy cues – they may come earlier than normal! Sleep is the best way for your babies to recover from that physical exhaustion. Don’t be afraid to let them nap a little longer or go to bed earlier.
5. Keep sleep habits in place even while on the go or travelling
Whether you’re just out for the day or travelling for several days, there are things you can do to keep sleep somewhat on track. When I’m working with families, I encourage them to try and just have fun, and remember that a few days back home back on schedule and being super consistent will get them back to where they need to be. Here are some things to do when your baby is sleeping somewhere new or on the go:
Do your best to replicate the home environment. Bring along your Baby Dream Machine or a portable sound machine. Be sure your baby is sleeping in a dark environment as much as you can. Any other item that has the scent of their home sleep environment is helpful too – a sleep sack or swaddle, comfort item and even the sheet they sleep on.
Try to keep your baby on as much of a routine as you can. The goal is to squeeze in some rest during the day so they aren’t going down overly tired at night.
When travelling west to east, it can be easiest to keep them in their normal time zone – they’ll just go to bed later and get up later. When travelling west, you will need to get about an hour within the time zone you’re in so they aren’t waking too early.
It’s common for a baby to wake more often in a different environment. You will want to go to your baby to comfort. Just try not to create any new bad habits. Try soothing without adding in a sleep prop like rocking or feeding to sleep.
Remember the rule about overstimulation, and try and get ahead of an overly tired baby by doing an earlier bedtime when you can.
The best way to ensure you have a good sleeper when you get home is to sleep train your baby before you go! A baby does not unlearn independent sleep, which makes the transition much easier.
Jess Hudson is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant with SleepShop Consulting. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and posts so many great sleep tips on Instagram (@jess_sleepshop)!