How to get the kids to sleep at Christmas

It might seem like trying to achieve the impossible but this sleep coach reckons she can help working dads get their kids to sleep at Christmas

Little blond boy asleep next to Christmas tree and hugging a teddy bear


All working dads know the value of sleep. And it can be particularly hard to come by at this time of year!.

Christmas this year may be very different in many ways. But one thing that will remain the same is the excitement of children desperate to see what Santa has brought them on Christmas Day! Getting children to bed on time, and encouraging them to stay in bed and not wake up at the crack of dawn is never easy.

However, getting children to settle can be done. 

Lucy Shrimpton, sleep expert and Found of The Sleep Nanny has some advice. 

Lucy Shrimpton

Limit sugary foods.

Your cupboard may well be full of lovely Christmas treats and your tree hanging with delicious chocolate and candy canes – all temptations for our little ones. And for some reason we allow children way more than we allow ourselves so just be careful of this. If they’re having treats close to bedtime, that sugar can create an adrenaline rush just as they’re meant to be calming down for bed. Be particularly mindful of this for children aged four and up who have the most successful powers of persuasion!

Avoid over-tiredness.

While it can be tempting to want to keep children up later and later each night over Christmas, this will only cause over-tiredness. When a child is over-tired this means they won’t be able to sleep properly in the night or they might wake up earlier than normal – just what you don’t want if you’ve got a busy day of cooking and entertaining!

Avoid too much screen time close to bed.

Christmas movies are one of the best things about Christmas but do your best to give children around an hour of no-screen time before they go to sleep, and at least half an hour before getting ready for bed. Try reading a Christmas story to them in bed instead.

Stick to your routine steps wherever you are.

So, if you’re staying over at your family’s house in the allocated time that the government has allowed us to, try to stick to your sleep routine. Nap during the day at the time they are used to and make sure they go to bed at the same time each night. Have the same sleep cues you have when you’re at home so that they know that bedtime’s coming.

Stick to YOUR rules.

If your family has a set time when you can start the day, stick to it. Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean they can start waking up at 5am and if you allow them to for a few days, this will only cause confusion and potential disobedience, particularly in younger children who don’t understand your logic. If you don’t stick to your rules, your child will not take them seriously for the rest of the time. So, as hard as it might be, try to stick to your rules and routine – you’ll thank me when New Year is here!


The Sleep Nanny® has just launched a brand new online sleep programme called Dream Maker, aimed at new parents struggling to help their children sleep through the night. See more here –

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