‘Tis the season for those rhythms and booms across the country!
For moms of babies, you're probably wondering one of two things:
How do I help my baby sleep through the late-night fireworks and festivities?
Can I/Should I/How do I have my child participate in the late-night fireworks and festivities?
Maybe even both if you live in a densely populated area where you may go to one event but not another on a different night. Either way, I’ve got you covered!
Let’s start with the more conservative option - keeping your baby asleep, at home during the fireworks show…
Help Your Baby Sleep Through Fireworks and Celebrations
A sound machine is going to be your best friend. I repeat, A SOUND MACHINE IS GOING TO BE YOUR BEST FRIEND!
If your child isn’t already sleeping with a sound machine, they should be! Using white noise throughout the duration of sleep will help your little one get into a deeper and more restorative sleep, AND it will help block out external noises.
Read that last part again - it will help block out external noises!
If and when the fireworks show is about to start, and your little one is snoozing peacefully in their crib, you’ll want to go in (or, if you’re fancy, just open that app on your phone) and turn up the volume a few notches. You can turn it up fairly loud for this short amount of time without worrying that you’ll damage your baby’s hearing. It won’t be on too loud for very long…just until the show is done.
When the fireworks show is over, simply turn it back down to what you normally have it set at for sleeping.
What if your baby does wake up??
If they’re awake but not upset, I’d just monitor from a distance. Don’t go in unless they need you. They might just roll over and fall back asleep.
If that’s not the case, however, my best advice is to offer some comfort crib side. Let your little one know it’s okay…you’re there and there is nothing to be worried about. If they can comprehend it, remind them that it’s just fireworks from the 4th of July celebrations.
If your child is older, say 18 months or older, you can teach them about fireworks during the day - show them a video or read a book about it - and tell them that many people will be celebrating with fireworks over the next few nights. They might hear loud sounds - have your child make some loud “BOOM!” sounds and have fun with it! This will make it not as scary if and when they get woken by them in the middle of the night.
How to Prepare and Help Your Child During Fireworks Festivities and 4th of July Celebrations
You’ve decided your baby, toddler, or young child is going to participate in the late-night festivities this year - wahoo! Let’s go through a few scenarios.
You have a young baby and are going to see fireworks as a family.
I would start preparing by allowing your child to sleep more during the day since they might not sleep as much at night. If you normally wake your baby for the day by 7, but they’re still asleep, let them sleep later. Push all naps a bit later if it works out.
Then, make sure you bring what you need just in case your little one falls asleep at the festivities. Most babies can’t hang. ;)
You’ll want to pack: a portable fan, the stroller and/or baby carrier, possibly some noise-canceling headphones, a portable sound machine, a pacifier if your baby uses one, and anything you need for feeding and changing.
If your baby gets tired, you’ll have everything you need to help them sleep. And if they stay awake, no problem!
They may fall asleep in the car seat on the way home. If this happens, you’ll want to make sure you have the white noise continuing to play during the car ride as well as when you try to transfer them to their crib when you arrive home.
If they end up waking, simply do the last few steps of your normal bedtime routine (sleep sack on, say prayers/sing a song, give kisses, cuddles, and into bed. Respond how you normally would at their regular bedtime.
You have a toddler or preschooler and are going to see fireworks as a family.
Same as for a baby…if your child wants to sleep in, let them. They want to take a super long nap? Today is the day! Build up their sleep tank to help them make the most of the evening.
You also will most definitely want to enlighten your child on what’s going on. What are the plans? Fill them in! Explain to them what is going to happen tonight.
“We are going to go watch fireworks at the park! You’ll have time to play for a little bit, and then when it gets dark enough, we will sit and watch the fireworks together. It’s going to be loud and bright and beautiful. It’s also going to be late! It will be passed your bedtime, so as soon as we get back home, we are going to do a quick wipe-down with a washcloth - no time for a bath tonight! - brush our teeth, get our pajamas on, and go to bed. No time for books tonight either.”
Have them repeat this back to you to make sure they understand what’s going on and what the expectations are for when you arrive back home.
Then, go and have fun!!!
If you think they might fall asleep, bring their blankie or lovey item.
On the way home, remind them of what’s going to happen when you get home - “wipe-down, brush teeth, pajamas on, and into bed - no bath, no books!” Keep it short and sweet.
Your family is invited to a BBQ and pool party at a friend’s house that will go later into the evening, disrupting bedtime.
There’s no reason not to go!
Bring your play yard and whatever you need to do a bedtime routine (jammies, a book, sleep sack, white noise, etc.) on the go and put your baby or toddler down for bed in a bedroom away from the party. Don’t forget your monitor so you can keep tabs if your child wakes up at all. Read more about recreating your child’s sleep environment when you’re not at home here.
After putting them to bed, you can go enjoy the party for a few more hours!
When it’s time to leave, do a transfer with a sound machine into the car, and again into their crib or bed when you arrive back home.
With any of these scenarios, you can expect that sleep may be “off” the next day or so, and you might have a cranky kid on your hand. It’s to be expected. You and I are the same way when we don’t get enough sleep.
Give them some grace, and hopefully, the memories you made are well worth a crabby toddler!