Summertime. It always sounds so dreamy. Barbecues, vacation, family time, swimming, fun and laughter. But when you have kids, especially a baby, summer can sometimes be the most exhausting time of year. Give me hot and sticky weather, longer daylight in the evenings, a baby who is thirsty all the time, throw a couple of “bored” school kids in there and what do you get?
Yup, a frazzled mom!
So to help you out, here are a couple of my top summer sleep tips to save your sanity.
Summer Sleep Tips #1: Don’t overdress baby
One key way to keep baby comfortable and sleeping well in the summer is to dress appropriately. Yes, babies may have a little more trouble regulating their body temperature than us adults, but there is no need to wrap baby up like an Eskimo in popsicle weather! I’ve even been known to put my little ones to sleep with only their diaper and a sleeping bag in the summer! Sleeping bags come in a variety of different weights (called “togs”). If in doubt, check out this handy “what to wear guide” from Ergopouch.
Summer Sleep Tips #2: Stay hydrated
Keeping yourself and baby hydrated is crucial in the hot summer months. Your little one may need to nurse more regularly throughout the day, and maybe even in the night if it is really hot. For babies over a year old, leaving a spill-proof water bottle in babies bed at night can encourage them to help themselves if they get thirsty, rather than relying on mom or dad to bring a drink in the middle of the night.
From about 8 months onwards, cold watermelon can also be a great and delicious way to make sure your little stays hydrated during the day, containing over 92% water!! (It is also great as an on-the-go teething soother – wrap a piece of cold watermelon (without the rind) in a clean wet burp cloth. Baby can suck and chew on the piece of watermelon and get the juice, without worry of choking on seeds or chunks of watermelon!
(Speaking of water and hydration, incorporating a cool bath in the evenings can be the perfect addition to your baby’s nightly bedtime ritual!!)
Summer Sleep Tips #3: Avoid the rays
Especially when it’s hot outside, it’s important to keep sleep safe. In addition to making sue you are not overdressing baby, it’s important to make sure that their sleep environment isn’t overheating either. Not only can direct sunlight harm soft baby skin, but it can also heat up strollers and car-seats to burningly hot levels. If your little one needs to nap in the stroller or car-seat, make sure they are not in direct sunlight, or covered over with a heavy cloth. Even though this may make a darker sleep environment, a covering over the stroller can cause the temperatures inside to soar, creating a dangerous environment for baby. Needless to say, leaving baby in the car, even just for a quick minute, is a big summer no-no. The best option is to create an open safe sleeping space with a blanket in the shade on the ground, a pack n play or travel tent in the shade, or to make sure the stroller is positioned so that it gets a good breeze through it.
Summer Sleep Tips #4: Cool and dark room
Speaking of the sleep environment, blackout blinds are your friend in summer! With longer, lighter days, it can be hard for little ones to fall asleep in the evening. Blacking out the room can really help, as it provides the ideal setting for your little one to calm down after a busy day of fun.
Keeping your child’s room cool is also important. I often don’t even open the shutters in our baby’s room during the summer, or else the afternoon heats the room up too much. I leave the room pitch black, and just open the window to let air in in the evening once the temperatures have cooled off.
Ideal for keeping the room somewhat cool and the air circulating, a fan can also provide the perfect amount of constant white noise!
Summer Sleep Tips #5: Be flexible (but not TOO flexible 😜)
Some families, especially those with a mixed age-range of kiddos, prefer to shift their day routines during the summer, staying up later in the evening and sleeping in a little later in the morning. Some children are able to shift routine relatively easily during the summer (using blackout blinds and white noise can help with this!!) You can even plan each day flexibly depending on what time your baby wakes up (hey, if I can get a sleep in till 8am I WILL take it!). However, if your little one still consistently wakes up at the old earlier time, it’s better to respect their need for sleep and not try to force them to go to bed later in the evenings, or else you’ll just get an overtired grumpy baby (and potentially worse night sleep as well).
During the summer it can be easy to throw out your little ones good routine for the sake of fun activities, or holidaying with family. However, this isn’t always easy for little ones, and especially kiddos with slightly more sensitive temperaments may struggle a little more. If your baby has trouble sleeping on the go, consider doing the shorter morning and late afternoon naps (if still applicable) in the stroller, carrier or in the car on the go. Do try, however, to make the lunch nap (the longest, most important and most restorative nap of the day!) happen in a bed as much as possible. By respecting your baby’s need to sleep during the day, you’re encouraging them to sleep well at night as well (which will make your summer more refreshing too!)
Should you work on your baby’s sleep in the summer?!
Contrary to what you might think, summer can actually be a great time to work on improving your child’s sleep. Perhaps your spouse has some time off to help with the kids, or your other kids can go spend some time at the grandparents while you focus on one child’s sleep. Even if you have some travel coming up and you don’t think it’s worth working on sleep beforehand, don’t let that stop you! I’ve had some amazing successes recently with clients who decided to work on their children’s sleep before travel. Wouldn’t you rather go on holiday and be able to enjoy it and feel rested, rather than fight with sleep the whole time you’re away?! What are you waiting for? Book your FREE 15-min sleep consult with me today!