How to help your Baby and Toddler sleep better during the Summertime

Photographer:  Layce Bauman Photography

Summertime, is that you old girl? 

Finally the days are longer, the sun feels hotter....and your baby is waking up suddenly WAY too early every morning.  Or your toddler's naps suddenly last so long, that it's becoming difficult to put them down at night.  You also begin to even think about not traveling together until they are 18, because when you return home, things are a mess and sleep habits are out the window.  Today on the blog, we will be talking all about the mysteries surrounding sleep in the summertime, how you can avoid potential sleep hurdles at home or while traveling with children, and sharing our secret tips to help your child embrace sleep!

Your child begins to wake up every morning before 6am.

Every parent will inevitably watch the sun rise with their baby or toddler at some point, due to a bad dream, night terror or illness.  However, if your child regularly goes to bed around 8pm, then any waking before 6am (or after only 10 hours of sleep) can be defined as "Early Rising".  Early rising is characterized by your child acting like he or she is ready to go for the day with all the energy you'd expect from yourself after a few cups of coffee- you know it's much too early, but why is this happening morning after morning?  A couple of clues could lie in your schedule: a child that skips an afternoon nap during the summer due to social events (or just plain having fun) could result in an overtired child, thus they will "crash" at bedtime, but due to the extended window of time spent awake, could possibly wake up much earlier than usual.  If you choose to allow your baby or toddler up before 6am and shift your schedule back to accommodate, slowly this will become your child's new internal rhythm.  Invest in a black out shade (our favorite is this one) and a nightlight that illuminates and turns colors, or sings music when it's time for an older child to wake up for the morning (our favorite one here, a MAJOR sleep must have!).

After vacation, you return home...and your child suddenly now refuses to fall asleep on their own, experiences night wakings, or refuses to nap.

Oh boy.  Many parents will joke that vacations are now described as "family trips", meaning it's not always a vacation for everyone involved.  While traveling, sleep can be heavily disrupted due to changing sleep environments, inconsistent schedules, and perhaps even the introduction of a new sleep crutch for a parent desperate to keep a young infant quiet in a house full of family members.

We recommend traveling with a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, and always packing your DockaTot to keep your baby's environment as normal as possible.  Once home, return to your "home routine" as quickly as possible, and prepare for some mild pushback, especially if a bed or room was shared by a parent while traveling.  To ease your child back into your old routines surrounding bedtime, a reward chart for bedtime can assist an older child understand and accept your sleep wishes. A pair of new pajamas can even be an exciting way to encourage healthy sleep habits for younger toddlers!

travel sleep with toddlers summertime help

Decide on a consistent, yet flexible summer schedule.

The key to staying on schedule when the sun rises much early and sets MUCH too late, is adhering to a consistent, yet flexible summertime schedule that involves physical & mental stimulation for your young child.  A good rule of thumb is that from the time a child wakes in the morning, he or she should go to bed about 13 hours after waking for the day, leaving the next 11 hours reserved for sleep.  Be sure to offer a nap to those under three years, or allow children to catch a quick catnap in the car or stroller should they need one.  If holidays or family gatherings push bedtime back further than usual, your child may wake at the same time the following day (or earlier as discussed above), so be sure to offer a nap slightly earlier than normal the following day, and return to his or her normal bedtime thereafter.  If you feel like your schedule could use an update, or your child is ready to drop one or all of their naps, visit our Custom Schedule page here.

Child complains of being thirsty, scared, or cold at night.

Physical activity for most children peaks in the summertime, the season packed with bbq's and three-day weekends where everyone stays up too late.  Due to an increased level of physical activity, children may complain of being midnight.  Should you choose to allow a drink in the middle of the night, only offer water to those children no longer requiring a feed at night (our favorite light-up sippy cup here!), avoid juices and milks which can contain sugars.  With the air conditioners pumping, always dress your baby or toddler in organic long sleeve pajamas to increase the likelihood of comfort and warmth, like these from Finn and Emma.  For children that may wake suddenly and experience nightmares, or simply are afraid of the dark, introduce a "nighttime friend" that is only offered at bedtime, and encourage your child to hold/squeeze/sing to their friend should they wake worried at night (vs. coming to wake you up, eek!).  We LOVE this light-up plush from the Disney store, which illuminates when pressed and extremely soft. (Note that the AAP recommends nothing in the crib under 12 months of age).

For more professional Baby & Toddler Sleep Ideas and Help, visit

 As always, contact me if you need any help and I'll be glad to take a look at your situation and recommend some great fixes that fit your lifestyle and child's temperament, using your parenting style!  Happy Sleeping!

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