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'Night-Night' at Nana's

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You've graciously volunteered to watch the kids for the day so your daughter can have some much needed time off. With all the activities you've got planned, it's sure to be a fun and memorable day. But there are some important things you need to know in the sleep department (them, not you.) Here's what our expert Jill Spivack had to say:

grandmother putting child to sleep

Young children thrive on routine, especially when it comes to schedules and sleep. If your grandchild will be napping or sleeping over at your home, you'll want to do the following:

1) "So, What's the schedule?": Ask your daughter/daughter in law what the schedule is like, in terms of feedings, milk and sleep. Ask her to write down the general flow of a typical day, including the timing of bottles, naps and solid foods.

2) Bedtime Routine: Have your daughter/in-law teach you the bedtime routine prior to naps or nighttime. Very often, there is a specific flow of events, starting with a change of diaper or clothes, some milk, a book or a special song that will help the young child understand sleep cues so that they will have an easier time sleeping away from home. If your adult child uses white noise or darkens the room up for sleep time, do the same. Also, if there is a lovey that your grandchild sleeps with, ask your daughter/in-law to bring it to your home so the child will feel more secure being away from his/her parents.

3) Get Used to the Room: Make sure, prior to putting your grandchild to sleep, that you spend time in the bedroom where he'll be sleeping for at least 30 minutes prior to a nap or bedtime. This will help them acclimate to their new sleep environment so they feel more comfortable going down.

4) Check-in! Don't fret if your daughter/in-law needs to call and check in a few times. Welcome the call, as she is probably feeling a bit anxious about whether her child is sleeping ok while she's away.

5) Spend Time Together: If you haven't seen your grandchild in a while, make sure to spend time with your daughter and the child before taking over the caregiving. This will help the child feel more comfortable with you before mom leaves. Spend at least 30-60 minutes together, playing and talking and then mom should always say goodbye (rather than sneaking out!)

6) Pictures Say 1000 Words: It may be helpful for you to create a little photo album (indestructible please!) of you and grandpa so that when they child is away from you, mom and dad can remind her of you frequently. That can help to maintain a more long distance bond so that when you see each other again, the child feels more familiar with you. Some video footage can also do the trick once children are over one year old.


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