Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it's a time when we disconnect from our busy lives, reconnect with friends and family, and break bread. Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to plan meals and cook with our children, read about the holiday, and, most importantly, give thanks for our blessings. During the holiday, it's also important to keep nutrition and a sleep schedule in mind – even though we might bend the rules a little.
Thanksgiving and Nutrition
First, don't let kids get too hungry before the big holiday meal so they won't be tempted to overeat. Keep them on a regular meal schedule and always include foods in the holiday meal that are fresh, unprocessed, nutritious – and some that your child is familiar with.
There are many great Thanksgiving books available on everything from the history of the holiday to gratitude. Here are a few of my favorites:
- For ages 2 years and up: The First Thanksgiving by Kathryn Lynn Davis. This lift-the-flap book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving, from the Pilgrims sailing to America to their feast with the Native Americans.
- For ages 3 to 5 years: Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland. This book is a celebration of how Thanksgiving brings family and friends together.
- Ages 4 to 8 years: Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes. This story introduces children to the importance of gratitude and giving thanks. The last page of the book includes space for children to write down what they are thankful for, making it a wonderful keepsake.
- Ages 6 to 8 years: Pilgrims Of Plymouth by Susan E. Goodman. This picture book takes young readers back in time to see what it was like to be a Pilgrim child in 17th century Massachusetts.
With the changes this holiday brings to everyone's schedules, we have to accept that our child's regular sleep schedule may be a bit off. It's okay to bend the rules a little, but be sure to return to a regular sleeping schedule as quickly as possible.
If you have a little one who still naps, and you're traveling or having guests, their regular nap schedule may have to take a break. As long as you are consistent with your little one's nap schedule 80% of the time, you should not fret if your baby misses an occasional nap if the environment isn't conducive to napping. Here are some guidelines:
- If you're traveling, and your baby falls asleep on the way home and wakes up refreshed when you get home, wait before putting him down for the night. Newborns won't last very long—perhaps an hour; with babies 1 to 4 months of age, wait 1 to 1.5 hours before putting them down; with little ones 5 to 12 months of age, wait 2 to 2.5 hours; if your baby is over 12 months old, wait around 3 hours before putting them to bed.
- If you're traveling and your child doesn't fall asleep on the way home, put them to bed earlier, in some cases as early as 5:30 if your baby is over 12 months of age.
Remember, you should always go through your regular bedtime routine when your child is awake. Then get them back on their normal sleep schedule and routine over the next few days. For more sleep tips visit, sleeptransformation.com.
Whether you're traveling to see friends or family this Thanksgiving or welcoming loved ones into your home, I wish you many blessings of love and gratitude.