Managing holidays and baby sleep is always stressful, but I find that one of the most stressful holidays is the 4th of July with it's late night fireworks. Nothing guarantees a rough night and early morning like a baby staying up too late. Don't believe me? Ask any experienced mom out there. They know. Late nights are hard on babies and toddlers. But this doesn't mean you are doomed to zero fireworks until your children are well into their childhood years! Continue reading to find the tip that will work best for your youngest babies and other tips for your big toddlers!
18 Months and Younger
First, there is zero reason why an 18 month old (or younger) needs to stay up to watch the fireworks. I am sure some of you will disagree with me on that one, but I will stand my ground. I know how fun it is for parents to give their children these new experiences. Sometimes we enjoy it more than them. Which just supports my point. Are we doing it for them or for us? They don't have any idea what fireworks are. In fact, there is a good chance they won't even like the fireworks, and they surely won't remember the experience. Why not let them sleep and let them experience the joy of fireworks when they can actually tell you how awesome they are? And bonus: You won't run the risk of terrifying them with those loud booms that accompany fireworks.
Instead of keeping them up late at night, save your sleep interruptions for the day of the Fourth of July with something you know they will love! Water, bubbles, yummy treats, sand play, etc. It's the simple things that end up being their favorite anyway. Then you can enjoy the evening without a tired, crying baby on your hands.
While your baby is snoozing away in bed, here are some ways for you to enjoy the fireworks as well. I live 'close enough' to some firework shows that we end up watching from our roof. My oldest LOVES climbing up on the roof (always supervised, of course) to watch the fireworks! Perhaps your house doesn't offer that option, but what about a family members or friends home? Perhaps hiring a babysitter for a few hours, or a senior adult in your holiday group that doesn't care for fireworks may appreciate the opportunity to stay home. If there are multiple firework shows on differing nights in your area maybe you could take turns seeing the fireworks. There are so many ways to let your baby sleep while you enjoy the fun. Start brainstorming and get creative with your specific limitations to make it work.
Now be honest, how many of you are nervous that if you try and let your baby sleep through the fireworks he will just wake up anyway? I use to be nervous about that too, until I learned this about baby sleep. When babies fall asleep for the night they enter their deepest sleep! This is why you can sometimes carry a sleeping child from the car, change him into his pajamas, and put him to bed without him ever waking. This deep sleep lasts anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on the child, age, and time they fell asleep. When a baby or child is transitioning from this deep sleep he will often cry out or wake up at this point. Babies who have been sleep trained can usually soothe themselves back to sleep when they wake. If you haven't sleep trained your baby you are probably going in to help them fall asleep again. There's my plug for sleep training, so tune in next week to learn all the basics of sleep training. Now back to the holiday sleep. Fear no more! Your child will very likely sleep right through the fireworks in this deep sleep state. Obviously using a noise machine will help cut down on noise and guarantee no wakings.
For those parents who won't listen to me and will insist on bringing their wee little ones with them, here are a few suggestions to help the night go smoother. Before you settle in to watch the fireworks try going for a walk or car ride, where your baby can fall asleep in the car, stroller, or baby carrier around their usually bedtime. I would encourage you to get some baby earmuffs to help muffle the noise of the fireworks so he can sleep right through them. And remember, sleep is a necessity fireworks are not!
Hopefully by two years of age you kind of know your child a little bit. You know what happens when they stay up later than normal. Awful night? Early morning? Can they sleep in at all? Will they take a longer nap the next day? What about if your child goes down for a nap later than normal? Will they sleep longer? Wake earlier? When you know your child and their sleep habits well you will be able to make a plan that will be the most effective for him. Here are a couple sleep options, using on what you know about your child, choose the best fit!
One option would be to plan some fun activities in the morning to wear your little one right out! Our goal here is to help him take a long, rejuvenating afternoon nap in order to help him get through the firework show later. Some children will sleep later and longer when they take their nap later than normal, other children wake earlier and it would be best to keep them on their regular schedule. If your child needs to stay on his regular schedule I would encourage you to find a way for your baby to fall asleep at his regular bedtime. Then, if you are feeling adventurous, wake him up to enjoy the fireworks right before they start.
Another option is to make up for the late night the next day. Some children will sleep in slightly t