How to Help Kids and Pets Get Peaceful Sleep on the 4th of July
While you spend your time celebrating Independence Day with hot meals off of the grill, cool brews from the fridge, and showing off your new bathing suit, things are a bit different for the kids in your life, both those with two legs and four.
July Fourth means festivities at the beach or in the backyard, and of course, plenty of fireworks. For adults, it’s just another light show to enjoy, but for children and pets, it’s explosions in the sky and lots of ear-straining bangs.
So how can you balance your enjoyment with making sure that your little ones and furry friends aren’t freaking out and becoming so riled up that they’ll never be able to get to sleep on the Fourth of July?
We’ve researched how loud noise can negatively impact our ability to sleep and discovered that noises in the 40 to 70 decibels range are loud enough to wake you up at night. Some examples of sounds in that decibel group would be the noise created by dropping a book onto a hardwood floor or a passing car stereo cranked up to high.
When it comes to fireworks, you’re looking at noise that’s in the 150 to 175 decibel range, which makes for much more sleep disturbances, and can even cause some to panic, especially young people and your furry companions.
That’s the bad news but we also have some of the good variety for you! We’ve gathered some helpful hints on how to keep both kids and pets calm, stress-free, and ready to turn in at the end of a long day celebrating the patriotic holiday.
How to Help Children Sleep on the Fourth of July
It’s a fact that kids love excitement and noise. They love being a part of the festivities and most of them truly enjoy watching fireworks with their families. But it’s also a fact that loud noise can cause stress and sleepless nights, which is why we’ve come up with these tips for keeping your little ones stress-free and ready for the rest that they need to be happy and healthy, whether you’re celebrating at home or out on the town.
If you’re going out to catch the fireworks…
Stick to the regular napping schedule: It might be tempting to allow your little one to skip out on naptime during a busy holiday weekend, but kids that are well-rested are more likely to be able to handle a bedtime that’s later than usual, and less likely to have a meltdown when excitement levels ramp up. And for kids under 5 years old, you might even want to consider an extra nap in the evening before heading out, as it can help keep them from stressing out due to being overtired.
Give your kiddos a preview of the action: If your children are going to be seeing fireworks in person for the first time, you might want to take some time out to give them a taste of what they can expect in the form of an online video or two. You can “oooh” and “ahhhh” together as you watch the colorful explosions on the screen, which will cut down on some of the scary factor that could come with seeing them up close.
Find a familiar spot to enjoy the show: Big crowds, loud noises, and being outside in the dark can all be a bit overwhelming for some kids. Your best bet to cut down on possible anxiety (and the accompanying tantrums) is to make sure that your little ones know the area where you watch the fireworks. Research where the show will happen in your town and then make a couple of visits there before the holiday. Or you can go even with an even more familiar route and watch from inside your own car, which offers the added bonus of beating the post-show traffic.
Prep for an easy bedtime transition: If you’re going to be viewing the fireworks with babies or toddlers, you can save yourself quite a bit of trouble by dressing them in their PJs before heading out. Not only will they be ready for bed when you get back home, the familiar clothing will help ease their fears, and the comfy material is perfect for cuddling them close to reassure them during the noisy show.
Know when enough is enough: Even though the typical fireworks display lasts only about 30 minutes, that can be a long time for an overwhelmed child, especially when you add in the noise, bright lights, and explosions. If your kiddo is freaking out, it’s better to call it quits before the end of the show, especially if you want him to be able to get to sleep at all that night. You can always try again next year!
If you’re staying home and skipping the fireworks…
Stick to the typical bedtime schedule: This shouldn’t be a newsflash here, but getting your child to bed at the same time every night is a great way to make sure that they have the best sleep they can get. If your family is skipping out on the fireworks and your little one usually goes to bed before dark, go ahead and stick with that routine – they’ll most likely be fast asleep before the fireworks go into high gear.
Make some noise of your own: If you’re worried that your child will have trouble falling asleep or staying that way with the noise of the fireworks, you can set up an extra fan, a white noise machine, or play some music on a Bluetooth speaker in their room. Just be sure to keep the sounds ambient and soothing, and you might want to keep them playing all through the night, if you have neighbors that like to take part in their own early morning private fireworks displays.
Give them some extra cuddle time: Your child might end up waking up from the noisy celebrating in the neighborhood. That’s totally to be expected and you shouldn’t feel guilty about giving them some extra comfort and reassurance. You won’t form a new “sleep crutch” by letting them crawl into bed with you or spending more time than usual getting them settled back into sleep – habits aren’t formed in a single night.
How to Help Pets Sleep on the Fourth of July
Children aren’t the only ones to have trouble staying calm and getting to sleep due to the noise from Fourth of July fireworks. Dogs and cats have also been known to be frightened and become anxious from the bright lights and loud booms that come along with Independence Day.
Your canine children register sounds on a much higher frequency than humans do and that means they will most likely find the noise of the fireworks quite a bit more bothersome than we find them.
So what can you do to help keep your furry family members free of stress?
Set up a safe place: If you plan on going out to see the local fireworks display, you should set up an area where your pet will feel safe while you’re gone. Pick out the quietest room in your home and make sure that your pet is comfortable being there. Make sure that there is low lighting and all of the windows and blinds are closed. Fill the room with your dog’s favorite toys and a soft, comfy place for him to lay down.
Drown out scary sounds: Recent studies have shown that dogs are just as positively affected by white noise as humans are, which means that keeping your pooch distracted with soothing music or other ambient sounds will help to keep him calm, and leave him less negatively impacted by the noise that comes with the celebration of Independence Day.
Consider medication for severe cases: If your dog has shown serious anxiety in noisy situations in the past, your best bet might be to help him manage his stress with anti-anxiety medication. But your veterinarian should be the one to make this call! Schedule a visit well before the Fourth to discuss your concerns and possibly get a prescription to help keep your pooch anxiety-free during the fireworks.
Or go the natural route: While medication might be right for some dogs, it can be wrong for others, even if they do have some trouble settling down to sleep when it’s especially noisy outside. Luckily, one of the same natural sleep supplements for humans also works wonders for canines. Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body and induces feelings of drowsiness. You can give your pup 3 mg per 50 pounds of bodyweight, which should keep him nice and calm during fireworks on the Fourth.
Keep things friendly: If you’re staying home on the Fourth because you already know that your pet freaks out over the fireworks, your best bet is to keep them distracted through play during the worst of the noisy celebrating. Just having you close will help keep them calm but playtime doesn’t hurt!
It’s all about trial and error (and treats!): We can love our pets and even monitor them but we can’t know exactly what it is that’s going on inside their heads. That means we have to wait for clues from them to let us know how they are feeling. If this is your first Fourth of July with your pet, you might want to simply watch and wait to see how they will react, instead of jumping right in with one of the above options.
Now that you know how to ensure a peaceful and entertaining Fourth of July with your little ones and your furry family members, get out there and celebrate the birth of our nation in whatever way works best for you and your loved ones.
Happy Fourth of July!