How to Know if Your Child is Ready for His First Overnight at Grandma’s

Posted on by admin | in Nannies

Spending the night with Grandma is an iconic milestone for kids, and often marks the first time they spend the night away from home. Figuring out when your child is ready for that first overnight trip isn’t always easy, though, especially when you’re trying to sort out your own conflicted feelings on the subject. Whether you’re eager to enjoy your first kid-free night or heartbroken about the prospect of your baby growing up, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a way to remove your own emotional reaction from the equation in order to objectively determine whether or not he’s reached a point in his development that would allow for a successful overnight visit.

Consider His Sleeping Habits

If your child is still an infant or suffers from nighttime difficulties that inhibit his ability to sleep through the night, there’s a good chance that he’s not ready to be removed from the familiarity of his own home. Waking up in the middle of the night in a place where he’s not accustomed to sleeping could exacerbate his sleeping problems, not to mention doing a number on Grandma’s ability to rest. Before you pack your child’s bags for a sleepover with the grandparents, take his sleep habits into careful consideration.

Keep Grandma’s Needs in Mind

You may be chomping at the bit to get your child acclimated to spending the night away from home, and he may be eager to spend the night with Grandma as well. Just as important as his ability to make it through the night without an incident that results in tearful phone calls and pleas to come home is Grandma’s ability to meet his needs. If your parents or in-laws are of an advanced age or have medical problems that would make it difficult for them to care for a child that isn’t quite self-sufficient, it may be better to delay that first overnight visit a bit. After all, your child will not enjoy the experience or be particularly eager to spend future nights away from home if his first experience ends in failure or leaves him uncomfortable because Grandma isn’t able to care for him in the manner to which he has become accustomed.

Pay Attention to His Ideas

Pre-verbal toddlers and infants won’t be able to contribute much to a conversation about their readiness to spend the night away from home, but an older child will be able to share his own thoughts on the subject. While some bravado and posturing is to be expected, especially if a child is eager to appear more mature than his years, you’ll still be able to get a fairly accurate portrait of his feelings about spending the night with Grandma. In most cases, if he’s old enough to request an overnight visit and he’s capable of sleeping through the night, he’s probably reached a phase in his development that will allow the night to pass with relative ease.

Factor in Feeding Arrangements

When the child in question is an infant, it’s important to keep your feeding arrangements in mind. A breastfed child that’s never taken to bottle feeding easily probably won’t fare well on pumped milk at Grandma’s, leaving him hungry and cranky while Grandma is frustrated and exhausted. Formula-fed babies may have an easier time, though you will need to think about whether or not your parents are ready to get up several times over the course of a night to feed a hungry infant.

Talk it Out

If your child is old enough to talk about how he feels in terms of staying with Grandma, bring him in on the conversation. If he isn’t quite verbal, you’ll still want to have a lengthy discussion with Grandma about both her expectations from the evening and your own, as well as a back-up plan in case things go awry.

If you’re having a bit of trouble with separation anxiety yourself, it’s easy to color your perceptions in a way that makes it seem as if your child isn’t ready for the time away. Be careful about how you approach this situation, as you can easily pass on your own anxieties regarding the separation in a way that helps them take root in his mind. The last thing you want to do is to introduce separation anxiety to a child that has no previous history, as it can be a problematic hurdle to overcome. If your child is ready for that first sleepover, cheer him on and encourage his independence!

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3 Responses to How to Know if Your Child is Ready for His First Overnight at Grandma’s

  1. The point that I agree with the most is listening to your child. Even if they are a toddler, you can gather a lot by their actions. They don’t necessarily need to verbalize their feelings.

    In my opinion, there’s an even bigger point. Who says it’s necessary for a child to spend an overnight with anyone unless they bring up the subject on their own? Lots of kids grow up perfectly fine and well-adjusted and never have sleepovers, nor do they go away to camp. For some reason, our society puts these expectations on kids and many times, if we allow the kids to mature and grow in their own time, they’re better off.

  2. Your baby can have an overnight stay even when you are breastfeeding. Many moms like to do this for an anniversary. Take into consideration our feeding chart to see how much milk to leave. Make sure to leave one additional bottle of frozen milk for every 12 hours you will be gone. It is easy to defrost breast milk when stored in bags like the ones found at the link below. Even if you baby has not had many bottles, grandma has the skills to make sure your little one eats. Happy Getaway! Tanya Roberts, owner Lactation Connection {The Nursing Mother’s Milk Supply} http://www.lactationconnection.com/Mother_s_Milk_Supply_s/1904.htm

  3. Gaby Morris says:

    Bonding with extended family is essential and immensely pleasurable to all parties involved however it is not without challenges which alter as the child/ren grow. Being able to dispassionately say to ones own parent (however you dress it up) you are not able/knowledgable enough to do this is a minefield but safety has to come first. I recently wrote about precautions and preparations http://www.childcareblog.co.uk/?p=249 in the piece Just Because she is your mum does she know what to do in an Emergency? Bottom line I would attend paediatric first aid training with granny/grandpa and together get up to speed on current thinking. make it something enjoyable you all do together – after all most new parents start off from a point-zero level of knowledge and end up full blown maven!