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How to Get Grandparents and Caregivers On Board with Your Baby’s Sleep Training

Updated: Jun 11

By: Sarah Bossio, Certified Pediatric Sleep Expert

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Congratulations! You have a baby, everybody is overjoyed, and you are surrounded by your village. Your village may include grandparents and other older caregivers who are so excited to help you take care of your baby.

However, if you have certain priorities, expectations, boundaries or rules surrounding your baby's sleep, you may find that your grandparents or older caregivers may not buy in as much as you do. Here’s how to establish consistency in a kind and thoughtful way to ensure sleep remains a priority in your household.

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Ways to Get Grandparents On Board with Sleep Training

When I had my oldest daughter, I was so fortunate to be able to have a ton of help from both my mother, father-in-law, and my grandmother-in-law.

But when I was trying to establish sleep, I was flying blind. I had no idea what to do with her sleep until I started reading a lot of books and educating myself in the world of sleep. (Thank goodness we have so much information now!) I was all over Google, reading tons of books, and thankfully there are so many opportunities to learn about subjects like pediatric sleep today. So, when I began making the transition back to work, I had very specific schedules outlined for my grandmother-in-law, who was watching the baby.

I asked my grandmother-in-law to jot down the time the baby napped, when she woke up, and how much she ate – every-thing-every-single-day. I have to say, I was one of the lucky ones because there wasn't much pushback from my family members about what seems like a neurotic way of managing the baby's schedule while I was at work. 

However, we did have conversations that went like, “This just wasn't the way it was when I raised your husband…”

Even my parents said, “This wasn't the way it was when we had you…”
My response to that was always loving, understanding, and firm.

I met these comments with, “I understand that it wasn't like this back then. However, we have so much information now, and when you know better, you do better. This is what I would like to try and prioritize for our family, and we so appreciate your help as we make this a priority.”

It is helpful to approach these conversations from an angle of understanding amd respect. Your parents, grandparents and older caregivers have done a great job of raising you and your partner, they did what worked for them in the moment, and it's okay for them to be able to offer their advice on what may have worked “back then”.

It’s also okay for you to say, “I love that and thank you so much. However, this is the recent research that I've done now, and I'd like to see how this works for my family.”

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Setting Expectations Around Sleep

two grandparents celebrating baby's first birthday party

Infrequent Presence

If you have grandparents who are just visiting, maybe they’re here for a weekend, or perhaps they pop by infrequently, and they want to snuggle the baby when it’s time for the baby to sleep, go ahead and let that happen. Just roll with it. After all, that's kind of what grandparents are there for. They've waited a long time to earn the title of “grandma” and they should be allowed to bend the rules a bit.

The benefit for your child is going to be a really great and different relationship with their grandparents than maybe you had with your own parents. It's a special thing to foster and nurture, so allow them to be the people who spoil your kids, while you maintain your boundaries.

There’s no need to stress out if there are contact naps and late bedtimes every once in a while. Remember that the benefit here is the bond – something that takes time to nurture and grow and will only serve them well as they grow up.

young couple with baby and the baby's grandparents sitting on couch all happy

Regular Presence

If the grandparents are going to be around a little bit more than just the occasional dinner or afternoon visit and they are participating in regular child care, it is definitely worth it to have a very open conversation with them about your priorities related to sleep. 

Approach the conversation prepared with the knowledge that, yes, they probably “did things differently”, and we will respect that because it worked for them at that time. Be sure to respect their perspective as it is important to give respect before receiving. But lead with the stance that you’re coming into parenthood, just like they did, trying to do something new, and it will be helpful if they are able to get on board.

Lead with openness and empathy, lots of equal communication, and respect for the parenting knowledge that they have.

Give yourself that same empathy and respect for what you’re trying to learn, too.

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Preparation Is Key

Give them visuals! Print your baby's schedule and what you would like them to follow. Maybe have them shadow you for the day so that they understand the way that you're putting the baby down, what your routine is, and what preferences the baby might have. Then, explain what you expect in terms of your child’s sleep. 

If it’s still hard to get them on board, don’t be afraid to rely on research and let them know your sources. You can say, “Listen, I've done a lot of research on this, and these are the benefits of keeping sleep on track.” 

Share with them the benefits of great naps and how this results in great nights. Express to them the difficulty you face when you need to work or be outside the home – and you’re not sleeping because of your child’s sleep situation. Make it clear that this is a priority for yourself and your family, that you’re ensuring sleep stays sustainable so you can work the way you need to.

Coming from a place of empathy and explaining how it's going to benefit you (remember, you're still their baby and they want to make sure that they're helping you too), can help them see the necessity of getting on board. It's really important to have these conversations with the utmost respect because when you're speaking with respect, it is often returned.

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There will be circumstances where the grandparents are not going to respect the sleep schedule, and this may lead to tension in the household. If that is happening, my heart goes out to you because I'm sure it’s very challenging to have loved ones you cherish and trust with your child who are not following what you’re implementing. The result is a wonky nap schedule. 

Quick reminder: SO many families have their children in daycare, where there is little to no control over the schedule, the way the child is put to sleep, the length of time they're sleeping, and the sleep environment that they're in – and babies still sleep fine at night. Yes, even when they're napping less at daycare. Your child knows the difference between caregivers and they understand what the rules are with grandma and grandpa, and they understand what the rules are with mom and dad. 

If you’ve had those hard conversations already, yet you’re struggling to get sleep on track during the daytime, I suggest shifting bedtime earlier. This will offer more sleep for your child in the overnight hours.

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Independent Sleep Skills are a Game Changer

The most important piece of all to ensure your child sleeps well, for both grandparents and you, is to establish independent sleep habits for your children. When babies are able to sleep on their own, we can almost guarantee they’ll sleep well, no matter who is caring for them. They'll experience better stretches of sleep at night, which will translate to better naps during the day. 

If you are interested in learning about teaching your children independent sleep, I have some great resources on my Youtube channel. Check out the videos about using the chair method and timed checks; both are supportive sleep training methods to teaching independent sleep.

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If you need further support or would like someone to guide you through the process, check out my sleep training packages.

I work with families one-on-one, where I provide personalized sleep programs and help not only parents, but also other caregivers get on board and buy into prioritizing your child's sleep.

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Be sure to bookmark my blog on your favorites for quick reference. I have a library of free resources waiting for you.

You can also message me on my Instagram, where I give free Q&A sessions every week. I love interacting with you and helping you troubleshoot your sleep situations, so send me a DM on the ’gram and I’ll be happy to help. 

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Pediatric Sleep Expert Sarah Bossio sits on fun wicker chair with arms wide smiling

May your coffee be warm,


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Sarah is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Expert based in the NY/NJ Tri-State area and has helped over 400 families worldwide get their sleep back on track.

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