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image of grandmother holding baby during sleepover

A Summer Sleepover Cheat Sheet for Grandparents

Welcome back to our regular series with certified sleep educator, Terry Cralle, MS, RN. In this post, Cralle explains how you can help your grandkids sleep better when they visit you this summer.

What kid doesn’t love sleeping over at Grandma and Grandpa’s? Especially if it involves staying up late eating popcorn and watching classic movies or going out for ice cream sundaes after dinner. While breaking out of the usual routine, especially during summer vacation, can be a lot of fun, it can also undo all of the hard work parents did during the school year to establish regular and consistent bedtimes.

If you’re a grandparent hosting your grandchildren this summer, here are a few sleep tips to keep in mind. Trust me, you’ll both benefit!

Stick to a consistent bedtime routine

Familiarize yourself with your grandchild’s bedtime routine. Children of all ages benefit from a predictable, reproducible, and relaxing routine leading up to bedtime. In a 2009 study of more than 400 infants and toddlers, instituting a consistent nightly bedtime routine was found to be beneficial in improving several aspects of infant and toddler sleep, including falling asleep faster and a decrease in nighttime awakenings. Read your grandchild their favorite bedtime story or help them say their nightly prayer to keep some continuity with their regular bedtime routine.

Practice sleep safety

If it’s been a while since you’ve put a baby to sleep, be aware that safety standards and guidelines for children’s furniture and equipment have changed—a lot—over recent years. Remove pillows, stuffed animals, quilts, comforters, soft and hard toys, blankets, wedges, bumper blankets, loose bedding, and bumper pads throughout infancy. Also be aware that swings, car seats, and bouncers should not be used for sleep; nor should couches, waterbeds, soft mattresses, sofas, or armchairs. To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it’s best to place a baby on their back to sleep for their first year of life.

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Related: 10 ways to make sure your child gets enough sleep this summer

Encourage less screen time

Screen time at or near bedtime can lead to fewer hours of sleep and poorer quality of sleep in children. So encourage your grandchildren to put down their phones at a reasonable time before going to bed. Also keep a pair of blue light blocking glasses in the house—that way if your kid insists on scrolling through social media late at night, they won’t totally ruin their sleep.

Sign up for a grandparent class

Have you considered enrolling in grandparent boot camp? Grandparent classes are now a thing. Because so much has changed, many hospitals, senior centers, and community organizations offer classes specifically for grandparents. Curriculums will vary somewhat but usually address safe sleep practices, the latest in maternal and newborn care, and updates on products and trends. They might also include dealing with emergencies, ways to help new parents, and tips to make babysitting, sleepovers, and visits go safely and smoothly.

More from Terry Cralle:

Terry Cralle, MS, RN, is a certified clinical sleep educator and Saatva's sleep consultant. She is the author of Snoozby and the Great Big Bedtime Battle, the first nonfiction book directly messaging the benefits of sufficient sleep to young children, and Sleeping Your Way to the Top, the ultimate guide to success through better sleep. A nationally recognized sleep health and wellness advocate, her work in the field of sleep medicine has ranged from patient care to clinical research and continuing education for nurses.