When Grandparents Ignore Your Sleep Rules

We’ve heard plenty of positive stories about grandparent involvement, whether that be watching your baby for an occasional date night to those grandparents who take on a major caregiver role and babysit weekly, perhaps even overnight. Those grandchild and grandparent relationships are very special and it’s amazing to foster that, if it works for your family.

But what do you do when Grandpa sends you a picture of your 10-month-old asleep in their high chair at dinner because they decided to skip naps today?

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What do you say when Grandma sends you a picture of your 6-month-old baby sleeping in their crib surrounded by stuffed animals and with the blanket Grandma just finished knitting for her?

Even if you trust your child’s grandparent’s implicitly, you can’t deny that things have changed since they raised you, and it’s okay to talk to them about it. Especially when it comes to your baby’s health and safety.

So, while you might be able to look the other way when Grandpa gives your baby French fries or lets them watch too many episodes of Paw Patrol, there are ways that you can talk about healthy sleep and safe sleep practices without making them feel like you don’t appreciate their help or that you don’t trust their judgement.

Getting The Grandparents On Board

 Once upon a time parents were told to put baby outside in a pram stroller, in the middle of the winter for nap time because it was supposed to be good for baby. Regardless of what worked for your parents when they raised you, things change. In many cases, grandparents aren’t choosing to do the unsafe thing, they just don’t know any better. It’s been a very long time since they raised a baby which means they likely haven’t kept up on the latest research when it comes to infant health and safety.

We’ve talked before about the 80/20 rule, meaning that you don’t have to stick to your baby’s sleep schedule 100% of the time. In fact, the better you are at helping them develop positive sleep habits right from the start, the easier it will be for them to handle any routine deviations. So yes, it is okay for grandparents to occasionally keep baby up a bit later or let them nap on the go.

That being said, be up front with grandparents on what works for your baby and when you’d like them to nap and to go to bed for the night. After all, a well-rested baby will make their babysitting gig much easier!

Here’s some information to share that may help get them on board:

  • Sticking to baby’s schedule means that they will have predictability and know the best times to take baby out or to have visitors.
  • When baby is well rested they will eat better. A well fed and well rested baby is way more fun!
  • When baby gets the rest they need during the day, they will sleep better at night. Emphasize that this is not only good for baby, but for you too!
  • You’ve worked hard to build a sleep routine that works best for your little one and you would appreciate the support to keep it on track.

Talk About Safe Sleep

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a brochure called ‘Safe Sleep For Your Grandbaby’ as part of a Safe to Sleep campaign. Because the information is targeted specifically to grandparents, it might hold more validity than if you simply share the information on your own.

For a quick and easy reference, teach grandparents about the ABC’s of safe sleep:

Babies should sleep Alone

On their Backs

In a certified Crib

And that beautiful crochet blanket that was knit by Grandma? That special keepsake can be used in a chair in baby’s room during story time or during before bed snuggles for now. Eventually, when it’s safe, your little one can add that blanket to their bed, but for now, keeping baby safe should be top priority.

Other Sleep Resources Worth Sharing

If you’re looking for additional information to share with grandparents, here are some blog posts that you may find helpful:

Practice the ABC’s of Safe Sleep to Reduce the Risk of SIDS

Are You Putting Your Baby In Unsafe Sleep Environments?

Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Expert of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast and author of ‘This Baby Loves Sleep’. Alanna has established the world-wide brand of Good Night Sleep Site as being a #1 sleep resource for families and her and her team of sleep consultants strive in helping families (baby to adults) and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at www.goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram - @GNSleepSite.

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