Skip to main content

Calm-Down Routine to Help Kids Sleep During the Holiday Season

Here are some tips to help your whole family enjoy the holiday season — with fewer sleepless nights.

Do Your Kids Have Trouble Sleeping During the Holidays?

Children thrive on routines. In fact, studies show that routines are very important for the development of children’s social skills and learning processes1. Sleep disturbances are usually the first change you will notice if your kid’s routine suddenly changes.   

Here are some reasons why young kids have trouble sleeping during the holidays:

  • Sudden routine changes impact nap time and the usual bedtime routine
  • Sleeping in an unfamiliar place makes kids feel less secure and makes them unsettled
  • Overstimulation from meeting new people and eating sugary treats makes it difficult for kids to calm down at bedtime

Since kids find comfort in routines, a short sequence of calming activities can help young kids adjust to changes during the holiday season. Consider implementing a calm-down routine before the holidays, so your child knows what to expect when you use the routine during a vacation. Here is an example of a calm-down routine:

  1. Take your child to a quiet area with low light where you two can spend 15 minutes alone.
  2. Let them hold their favorite stuffed animal or blanket that you packed for the trip.
  3. Count five to ten deep, slow breaths together. (Take deep breaths so your kid can model your behavior)
  4. Let your child participate in a calming activity for 10 to 15 minutes. Yoga for kids, coloring, and reading a book together are examples of calming activities.

Follow These Tips To Help Your Kids Sleep During Vacations

The calm-down routine can be used any time your child becomes excessively wound up or overwhelmed. Here are some additional ways to help your children sleep at night during vacations:

  • Keep up with regular, balanced meals and minimize sugar intake to avoid blood sugar crashes that lead to meltdowns in young kids.
  • Make sure kids engage in daily physical and mental activities to stimulate their minds and bodies. Playgrounds and travel games for kids can help tire their minds and bodies.
  • Bring your kid’s favorite toy, blanket, and PJs so they can be comforted by familiar favorite items.
  • Try to plan travel times during nap times for young kids (babies and toddlers) or after playtime for school-aged kids.
  • Follow a bedtime routine that is similar to your at-home bedtime routine. Make sure your child knows you will be nearby by letting them see where you will be sleeping.
  • Let your child take a warm therapeutic bath and bring their kid-friendly bath products from home. Aveeno Kids® 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner and Aveeno® Kids Face & Body Wash will gently clean germs and dirt from the day’s adventures without causing irritation or drying their skin.

Children pick up on parents’ stress, so be sure to assess your own expectations before the trip. Taking the time to connect with your family and enjoy the holidays versus trying to meet everyone else's expectations will help you and your young kids successfully navigate the holiday season.


  1. Arlinghaus KR, Johnston CA. The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2018;13(2):142-144. Published 2018 Dec 29. doi:10.1177/1559827618818044
Where to Buy