I absolutely love this time of year. Pumpkin spiced lattes. Halloween decorations in the yard. Kids getting excited about what they’re going to wear for Halloween this year.
But Halloween night can pose some problems on the sleep front. You may want to take your little one out trick or treating and stay out later then you normally would. Or the thought of the doorbell going off at your baby’s bedtime gives you goosebumps. There’s no need to fear Halloween when it comes to your child’s sleep if you follow my steps outlined in this blog. As a sleep coach, I know how to navigate these tricky situations. And as a mom of two young elementary school children, I’ve been through this a few times myself. Here’s my step-by-step guide with sleep tips for Halloween.
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Set Expectations Ahead of Time
If you have a toddler or elementary school aged child, get them ready for the big day by letting them know what’s going to happen that night. Tell them about all the fun to come with dressing up in their costume. Walk them through what they’ll be doing when they go trick or treating. Explain to your child how they’ll be getting a bag full of treats and knickknacks.
They’re going to be excited. I mean, who wouldn’t be! Think about all the compliments they’ll be getting. And a bag full of sugar. They’re going to feel on top of the world.
But sugar isn’t ideal before bedtime, is it? Sugar leads to a hyperactive child who has a harder time settling when it’s time to go to sleep. Now I’m not saying don’t give your child any of that candy when you get home from trick or treating. Can you imagine how upset they’d be? I’m just recommending limiting the amount that you give them so they’re not totally bouncing off the walls.
How We Do Halloween At My House
I tell my son and daughter that they’re allowed two pieces of candy on Halloween night. They get to choose which two pieces they get, which they love to do. And I tell them they can eat their candy as we’re trick or treating. That way they walk some of that adrenaline off and the sugar has had a little more of a chance to work it’s way out of their system by the time they’re ready to go to bed for the night.
When we get home from trick or treating, I have them dump out their bags of candy on the floor together. Then I have them select two more pieces of candy that they can save to eat again tomorrow.
Then we put all the remaining candy back into their bags and I tell them how we’re going to donate the rest of the candy to Treats for Troops. Treats for troops is an organization that sends leftover candy to troops overseas. As a former military wife, I know how much the treats are appreciated overseas. And as a mom, I also appreciate getting the candy out of my house so it’s not a temptation for them days or weeks down the road.
I’d also encourage you to exercise caution when it comes to the type of candy your child is eating on Halloween night, especially when it involves chocolate. One often overlooked aspect of chocolate is its caffeine content. Chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine, which can have a significant impact on a child’s sleep.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can disrupt the sleep patterns of both children and adults. When children consume chocolate on Halloween night, the caffeine in it can lead to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. This means your child may be tossing and turning in bed, unable to drift off into a peaceful slumber, and waking up multiple times during the night.
Sleep Tips for Halloween
Once you get home from trick or treating and it’s time to get your child ready for bed, help minimize distractions. Turn off your porch light. Take the candle out of your pumpkin to discourage late evening tricker treaters from knocking on your door or ringing the bell.
Then do your usual bedtime routine with your child to prepare them for sleep. If you’re not sure what to do in your child’s bedtime routine, check out this blog on how to create an ideal bedtime routine.
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If Your Child Stays Up Late
A lot of us like to keep out child on a schedule. And children really do thrive on schedules and routines. Ideally, your child is going to do best when you stick within a 30 minute window of getting them to bed. So if their usual bedtime is 7:00, you’re going to help prevent them from getting overtired by putting them to bed by 7:30 at the latest.
But I don’t want you to stress about one late night. These late nights are going to happen throughout the year. And you can embrace them. These are going to be the times for making memories.
So if your child is up 30 minutes past their usual bedtime, you will probably want to expediate that bedtime routine. Instead of a 15-minute bath, aim for a quick 3 – 5 minute bath that night. Offer two shorter stories instead of the usual length stories you would read.
And then help your child recoup some of that sleep they lost on Halloween by moving bedtime forward for the next night or two. You can always move bedtime up to a full hour earlier to help your child catch up on missed sleep from the previous few nights. That way they’re not walking around carrying a sleep debt.
So enjoy this special night with your child. Take pictures. Eat some treats. And make those memories. Their sleep will get back on track over the next few nights if you follow my sleep tips for Halloween above.
And of course if you ever do need help with your child’s sleep, I’m here to help. You can set up your free Sleep Evaluation phone call here so that I can learn more about your child’s sleep challenges and walk through how I can help.