It’s almost August; that means backyard barbeques, pool parties, marshmallow roasts and… moving. That’s right - more people move to new homes between May and September than any other period of the year; this means that, for me, the summer months are filled with questions from clients about how the big move might affect their child’s sleep.
Moving to a new home absolutely does not (and should not!) mean a disruption to your child’s sleep. Here’s how to keep sleep on track when putting down new roots.
Prepare older children in advance: Toddlers and preschoolers love to be involved in decisions. So, discuss the move with them ahead of time, and get the excited for their new room! If a new bed is needed, ensure your child is involved in picking out the new bed and bedding, so that he picks a bed that makes him feel comfy and safe, and he feels like he has some control over this very new situation. If it’s just a matter of décor, let your little one be involved in that decision also, so he feels happy and cozy in his new sleep space upon arrival.
Have someone care for your little one on the day of the move: The last thing you want on the evening of your first night in your new home is for your baby or toddler to be overtired and incredibly cranky at bedtime thanks to a day of on-the-go or missed naps. Plan ahead and ask a friend, family member, or trusted babysitter to care for your little one at their home while you manage a chaotic day of moving trucks and unpacking! That way, your child can have all the proper naps she needs during the day, and sleep peacefully that night in her new sleep space.
Prioritize setting up your child’s sleep space: First thing’s first – set up your child’s room! The rest can be done later. We want your little one’s room to be comfy and inviting, and also be ready for sleep come bedtime that first night in your new home. So, set up the crib or toddler bed as your first order of business. If your child is older and will feel more comfortable if some familiar items are present, be sure to set these up as well (e.g. a bookcase with bedtime stories in it, her dresser containing her favourite PJs, etc.) It will be much easier to focus on unpacking your pots, pans, and artwork if your child’s room was ready for bedtime and she is sleeping peacefully by the evening.
Be consistent: Moving is a big change for your little one. Your child needs to know that, just because his surroundings have changed, your love and reassurance and any expectations about sleep have not. So, be sure to do your usual bedtime routine on that first night in your new home (bath, PJs, books, bed!), to help him feel comfortable and begin to feel familiar with the new space. Then, tuck him in with a kiss goodnight, and treat sleep just as you normally would so that he understands these new surroundings are a safe and happy place.
Erin Junker is a Professional Infant & Toddler Sleep Consultant, and owner of The Happy Sleep Company (thehappysleepcompany.ca). She works closely with tired parents to help them help their little ones get the healthy, restful sleep they need. Follow her at www.facebook.com/thehappysleepcompany and on Twitter @TheHappySleepCo, and let’s get your family the healthy, happy sleep you deserve!