Tips From the Sleep Consultant: Sleepovers at the Grandparents’

Whether your little one successfully went through sleep training, or you’re looking for a bit of incentive to get to the other side, today’s blog is about sleepovers at grandma and grandpa’s house. Don’t worry, if the mere thought of it makes you gasp, whether in disbelief or in wonderment, I’m here to reassure you that a well-rested baby means more options. Check out these tips for sleepovers with the grandparents.

You deserve it

When tired parents contact me for help sleep training their little ones, their major motivation is to get more sleep. And once that significant hurdle is tackled, parents begin seeing the possibilities a healthy sleeper brings. When was the last time you had a date night?

A commonality I see among parents of fussy sleepers is that they’ve not had time away on their own. Date night’s tough to pull off when your baby doesn’t sleep, making it difficult to leave them with a sitter. However, once you get your little one in a solid routine, you’ll be able to enjoy the occasional date night and allow the grandparents to finally have the overnight visit they’ve been requesting. 

Coach your parents

Look, you’ve gone to great lengths to get your baby into a solid routine – protect it. Before you leave your bundle of joy with the doting grandparents, let them know how vital baby’s bedtime routine is. An extra hour of cuddles and kisses can easily translate into a sleepless night for grandma and grandpa. So make sure you emphasize why your baby’s routine is essential and walk them through the process. If you’ve kept your nighttime routine simple, it should be easy to impart the bath, book, bed schedule, making the handoff as smooth as an Olympic relay.

Respect the parenting veterans

Be careful not to cross the line from coaching your parents in baby’s bedtime routine into sounding like more of a parenting authority than them. Remember that your parents or in-laws have more parenting experience than you or your partner. They’ve already made it through the baby years successfully. This is where a little reverse psychology can come in handy, especially when you’re sharing baby’s routine. If the grandparents express doubts or confusion with the schedule, reassure them. Tell them that you’re confident they can handle the routine, especially since they’re veterans!

Be honest

There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. The more you share how much you struggled when your little one wasn’t sleeping, the more likely you are to reinforce the reasons why your routine needs to stay in place, even while at grandma’s house. 

On the flip side, acknowledge how tempting it is to pick up a sleeping baby for extra cuddles. However, those sleep interruptions have consequences. It can turn a pleasant overnight visit into time placating a grumpy baby. Not to mention that picking up a tired and fussy baby the next day will make you reluctant to do future overnight stays.

Use the sleeping-feeding connection

No grandmother likes to see a hungry baby – or a hungry anyone for that matter! When was the last time she sent you home with leftovers? Exactly. So, emphasize baby’s routine by equating sleep with feeding. They wouldn’t want their grandchild to go hungry, so why would they want them to go without sleep? More importantly, if sleep is another basic need, as critical as food and nourishment, why would they deprive them of that? 

It may sound extreme, but some parents have stubborn, set-in-their-ways parents who need more convincing. If that’s you, feel free to equate sleep with food to drive your point home!

Keep calm

Prepare yourself for things to go differently at the grandparents’ than at home. Realize that grandma and grandpa are likely to break some of the rules and routines you’ve worked so hard to establish, but it’s not the end of the world. One night of being rocked to sleep or falling asleep in grandma’s arms typically won’t derail a carefully laid routine.

On the same note, realize that your parents will likely respond to your little one if they cry during the night. And it’s a natural response to give a baby a bottle when they’re crying in the night as a way to calm them back to sleep. Again, this night feeding shouldn’t throw your little one’s routine entirely off. Babies are remarkably resilient and have an uncanny way of reading their environment. They instinctively know that being snuggled to sleep by grandma doesn’t mean that mom or dad will do that at home. 

Still struggling to cobble together a routine? Or are you wistfully thinking about what it will be like when your little one can stay over at the grandparents’ house? I can help! Schedule a complimentary phone consultation today.

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