Have you been given the opportunity for your baby to go and have a sleepover at your parent’s house? A night or two away with no other responsibilities but to take care of yourself? Or maybe your dream of a night to yourself but are unsure how you would make that happen.
At least half of you have been offered a night off but the majority of you have turned them down for some reason or another. As a mom, it can be tough to let go of the reins when it comes to someone else caring for your child and it can be equally hard to risk ruining all the healthy sleep habits that your baby has learned since becoming a great sleeper.
But…there will come a time when you finally say “Yes!” to their offer and in this blog, I will help you prepare your little one (and you!) for the big day!
Start with a Trial Run:
One of the best ways to prepare your baby for a sleepover at someone else’s house is to start with a trial run. Spend a few hours or an afternoon with your baby at the location where he or she will be sleeping. Doing so will help your baby get familiar with the new environment and help you see if any problems need to be solved before the night of the big sleepover.
Specifically, look at the room where they will be sleeping. Evaluate how dark the room is with the curtains closed (if there are none, either ask your family to put some up or consider using a black garbage bag that can be taken down after the sleepover has ended).
Next, check out the room temperature. Is the room too cold or too warm? The average temperature for quality sleep ranges from 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit as stated by the Sleep Foundation. If the room temperature needs to be adjusted but that is not an option, ensure you are sending your baby with the appropriate layers for ideal sleep. Download my Dressing Guide for suggestions based on different room temperatures.
Lastly, consider the bed they will be sleeping in. Pack and Plays are great for travel and provide a safe sleep space for most babies up to 2.5 years old. VeryWellFamily has a great review of different types of Pack and Plays for every budget.
Bring Familiar Things with You:
Babies tend to sleep better when they are surrounded by familiar things and feel comfortable in their surroundings. So, bring along some familiar items that your baby is used to. Be sure to pack their favorite blanket or stuffy that they sleep with. If you will be bringing the Pack and Play, don’t forget to take the bedding sheet that smells like home! Lastly, the sound machine. Do NOT forget the sound machine! If you use a sound machine at your house for sleep, bringing the sound machine to your family’s house will be so helpful in creating a similar environment for your baby to fall asleep in. These small things will help your baby get a better night’s sleep, even when they are not at home.
Maintain the Same Routine:
As a pediatric sleep consultant who will spend my whole career talking about consistency, communicate with your family about what you do at home to help your little one sleep. Leave them with a written routine with as many details as possible. Make them aware of any special preferences your baby has regarding sleeping, such as what their bedtime routine looks like, how long you spend on the routine, and what time is their normal bedtime.
Babies thrive on routine, and disrupting their routine can make sleep more challenging for them. However, most families can’t resist all the smiles and snuggles they are getting all to themselves and end up keeping baby up too long. Remind them that you’ve worked so hard on sleep and maintaining their regular schedule and routine goes a long way to ensuring that they are getting the sleep they need.
So, to prevent any evening fussiness, try to encourage keeping the same bedtime routine as you normally do before bed, regardless of the location change. Consistent feedings, bath time, and story time will help your baby get into the right bedtime mood.
Try to Relax:
This one’s for you, Mama. Not every moment of your baby’s life needs to be managed by you (I know it’s hard because I’m that mama too!) and it’s okay to let others step in. Overthinking and over-analyzing will only mount the anxiety. So take a deep breath, trust your family, and enjoy your night to yourself. Your baby will be just fine, and chances are, they’re having an exciting time in the care of your loving family. In the end, it’ll be a beneficial experience for everyone, and next time, it will be more manageable and less stressful.