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You’ve been talking for months about Santa’s arrival – so when Christmas Eve finally arrives, is it any wonder your little one won’t go to bed? Here are some tips to help calm them before the big day

Stick to the routine

Bath, night-time drink, book, bed – make sure your toddler doesn’t get too unsettled by sticking to as much of your usual routine as you can. They might be sharing the bath with cousins or sleeping in a travel cot in your room, but sticking to the key elements of your routine will reassure and settle them.

Get them involved

Let your little one choose where to hang their Christmas stocking and help put out the mince pie for Santa and carrot for Rudolph – these small touches will make them feel special and put them in a good mood before bed.

Don’t forget the magic

However hard you try, your little ones are bound to be excited about Christmas if they’re old enough to understand it. Instead of constantly scolding them for not wanting to go to sleep, try to see it through their eyes and feel the magic. Let them peek behind the curtains into the night sky to see if they can spot Santa or agree to one more festive story before bed. It only happens once a year after all!

Own beds

If you can, try and let little ones sleep in their own beds on Christmas Eve. If you’re lucky enough to have family close by, it’s much better to rock up early on Christmas Day having all had a decent night sleep than head there the night before.

And if not

If that’s not possible, make sure you have your toddler’s familiar things with you – a favourite cuddly toy, book or blanket can be reassuring when they are in unfamiliar surroundings and might calm them down when they are over-excited and over-tired.

Don’t scare

It’s all very well using Santa as a bribe in the lead up to Christmas but be careful not to scare your little one. You don’t want them to be so worried about being on Santa’s naughty list that they won’t go to sleep…

Be prepared

It’s quite likely your toddler will be excited and wake early on Christmas Day. Make sure you plan in a nap or some quiet time reading a book during the day to avoid over-tired tantrums.

Watch those snacks

Don’t let your toddler have too many sugary treats before bed as it will only make them more hyped up. Instead of another chocolate, give them a slice of toast or a satsuma instead.

Get family to help

If your toddler is misbehaving and refusing to go to bed, enlist some help and take yourself out of the picture. They might act differently if grandma puts them to bed or reads them a bedtime story.

Incentivise

Consider giving your little one a treat if they promise to go to bed without any fuss – an episode of Peppa Pig, a new soft toy to cuddle, a pair of new pyjamas – something small that might make them realise going to bed could be a good thing.

Santa snooze

Don’t forget Father Christmas can’t deliver his presents if the children are still awake so get them to snuggle down and pretend, ‘sleeping lions’ style. Hopefully, they’ll drift off into a real sleep and awake with a full stocking!

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