There are countless joys to being a hands-on grandparent. Grandparents and grandkids share a special relationship, one like no other. You get to experience life through the eyes of a child, not to mention that you get to come and go as you please, blissfully not in charge of the everyday parenting tasks you once tackled.
But when your adult children decide to take a well-deserved weekend getaway, their little ones become your responsibility. Grandma and Grandpa’s house is suddenly full of life, love and youthful laughter, but it’s up to you to follow their routines and turn off the lights at a reasonable hour. So how do you help your sweet little grandkids go to sleep quickly and easily? Here are some tips to help kids to get some much needed shut-eye.
If you happen to be watching a newborn overnight, it’s all about the swaddle and supine sleep position. There’s a better chance baby will sleep soundly when swaddled and placed on her back. Snugly wrapped swaddles help control the Moro reflex, which can jolt babies awake, and supine sleeping has proven to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
After about three months (or when baby can roll over), transition her to a cozy wearable blanket in a premium fabric like Baby Velvet. Sleeping sacks from SwaddleDesigns feature a handy two-way zipper that make it easy to do diaper changes. Always place your grandbaby on her back on a firm crib mattress free of fluffy blankets or soft stuffed animals. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages wearable blankets versus loose ones, which pose a suffocation risk and could get kicked off. Pair this with soothing white noise sounds that emulate the womb, and you’ll find yourself sleeping just like her — like a baby.
By now, kids should be on a pretty strict sleep schedule and it’s up to you not to break it. Continue with their parent’s consistent bedtime routine. If they get a bath and two stories at home, give them a bath and two stories at Grandma’s house to signal bedtime. They will respond to consistency.
Address any bedtime fears that arise. Kids are in a somewhat unfamiliar place and their imaginations run wild. Consider spraying a can of air freshener disguised as “monster spray” before bed to help calm any fears. Also, if they are staying in a guest room, make sure there are no collectible dolls. They tend to scare kids.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, school-aged children need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep. Put them to bed and set a wake up time to give them the proper amount. Without this discipline, their bodies go into overdrive and can feel something like jet lag.
Kids sleep cycles are sensitive to temperature, so keep the thermostat a little cooler than normal to promote better sleep.
Avoid unhealthy treats before bedtime. If you let them have an ice cream sundae after dinner, give their tummies at least a couple hours to digest it before putting them down.
Light from a mobile device or TV screen can interfere with a person’s melatonin production — that’s the hormone that helps us sleep. Turn off the TV at least two hours before bedtime and have the kids do something else. Have then read, draw their day or work on a puzzle. Keep bedtime activities calm, dim the lights, and make it as quiet an environment as possible.
For all aged children, create a peaceful, sleep-inducing environment with soft sheets, a comfortable bed and curtains to block outside light. If you’re staying awake longer than the kids, turn the TV way down and be as quiet as possible – the kids don’t want to feel as if they are missing out on something.