I am sure you will all agree, the first time your friends and family have the chance to meet your new baby is a truly magical moment.
If you’ve been working hard to teach your baby some independent sleep skills however, be mindful that consistency is key. Putting your foot down may be required!
Babies bring us together in a very special way.
The last thing I want to do is rain on your parade. I just want to warn you that even though it is always wonderful to spend time with the people you love, it can also be absolute minefield of potential sleep sabotage.
Sorry Nanna and Pops, but I’m going to single out grandparents because they’re the most likely to be staying with you and the most likely to take liberties with your rules around your little one. However the same strategies may apply to anyone who might be nudging you to ease up on bedtime and naps so they can visit with your baby.
Common examples of this “nudging” include:
● Can’t she stay up just a little longer?
● We just got here! You can’t put her to bed yet!
● We haven’t seen the kids all year. They can sleep in tomorrow morning!
● We’ll take care of her when she wakes up! You guys sleep in!
All of these things are said with the best intentions of course. Grandparents are usually more than willing to get up and tend to their grandkids. You can’t really fault people for wanting to spend time with your adorable babies, can you?
Intentions aside, sticking to your guns when people ask you to push back your little one’s bedtime can be tough. I assure you however, it’s necessary.
One late night is often enough to leave your baby overtired. Making it tough to get them to sleep, causing less restful sleep when they eventually do go down, and often resulting in nighttime and early wake ups. All of which leaves your baby tired and irritable the next day.
Then whose problem is it? Well, yours, obviously.
The first thing most people do when a baby starts to cry is hand them back over to their parents. A bad nights sleep can lead into a tough day of naps, leading to another rough night, and here we go again.
I’m not trying to be an alarmist! However, things can get out of hand pretty quickly. Hence why I wanted to give you some tips for politely, but firmly, putting your foot down when your house guests ask you to hold off on putting your baby to bed.
So what does putting your foot down look like?
Be confident in your decision
Remind yourself of what you and your baby were going through when they weren’t sleeping well. Ask yourself if you can really go through it again. Remember that you’re doing the right thing for everyone involved. That’s never selfish.
Explain the situation
If people understand the struggle you’ve undertaken to get your baby sleeping well, they’ll be much more likely to accept it when you insist on rigorous bedtime and nap schedules. So let your guests know that bub will need to go to bed at specific times. No exceptions.
Highlight the rewards
This is really the best method I’ve found of appeasing house guests who don’t know the value of sleep. When they’re pushing for you to let baby to skip a nap, ask them, “Would you rather spend three hours with a crying baby, or two hours with a happy one?”
After all, it’s tough to bond with a baby when they’re fussing and irritable. Remind Grandma and Grandpa that it’s a choice between forming those cherished memories of their grandchild laughing in their arms, or significantly more forgettable ones of them fussing, screaming, and reaching for their parents because they’re tired and miserable.
Take deep breaths
I know that sounds basic, but deep breathing really is an effective method of calming your brain and body down in certain moments. An example I heard recently was, one of my client’s mother-in-law went to ‘check’ her grandchild after they had been napping for 15 minutes and then emerged from their room holding a tired, bleary-eyed baby in their arms. Their mother-in-law claimed that baby was already awake when they walked in!
Before you say anything, smile, breathe deeply. Remember that they’re just head-over-heels in love with their grandchild and didn’t do it to overrule or defy you.
Be the Boss
Above all, remember, this is your child and you know what’s best for them. Don’t let other people’s suggestions or experiences influence your judgment. You may hear things like, “We let our little one stay up late on the weekends and then they would always sleep in,” or “You’ve got to make exceptions during your stay”.
None of those people know your baby like you do. All of their opinions combined don’t hold a candle to your knowledge and proficiency in this arena. You don’t need to be a tyrant, but you should always keep in mind that you’re in charge because you’re the expert! So rock that title and do what you know is right.
The great news is, this is usually a one-time ordeal. Once your family and friends see how well your little one sleeps, they quickly learn to appreciate why you take it so seriously.
After experiencing first-hand how delightful it is to be around a well-rested baby, they won’t be asking questions when they come back to stay again. They’ll simply enjoy the experience and the wonderful memories being made!
To discuss how I can assist your family to achieve good sleep, please feel free to contact me.