How to Help Your Toddler Feel Comfortable Sleeping Over at Grandma’s

Some little ones have their first sleepover at Grandmas when they’re only a few weeks or a few months old while others wait until they approach preschool or kindergarten. If the time has come for your little one to pack their bags and spend a night with Grandma (either because you need a break, want a night with your partner, or are headed to the hospital to deliver your second) they might be feeling a little anxious about leaving your side. As long as your trust their overnight caretaker you have nothing to worry about, but use the tips below to ease your toddler’s nerves as they head out for their first sleepover!

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1. Talk to them about it prior to the big night

Even if you’re not sure that they’ll understand, you should talk to your child about what’s going to happen prior to leaving them somewhere new. When children know what to expect they’re better able to adjust and prepare and you’re better able to ease any anxieties that they might share. Don’t go into too much detail but be positive and share what they’ll be doing with Grandma and when you’ll return. For example, “This weekend you’re going to stay at Grandma's house without mommy or daddy! Grandma is going to have lots of fun games to play. First, you’ll bake cookies, and then you’ll watch a movie and eat dinner. After dinner, you’ll read your story and go to sleep and after you wake up in the morning you'll eat breakfast and play outside, then I’ll be there to pick you up!”

2. Acknowledge their feelings

If your toddler is verbal, they might share concerns about you leaving them. Be sure to acknowledge their fears and feelings but remind them that they’ll be okay. For example, if your little one shares that they feel nervous to sleep over without you, you might say, “It can feel scary to try new things without mommy, but Grandma is going to take good care of you. If you need me, you can always ask Grandma to call me!” 

{ MORE: What To Do When a Child Can’t Fall Asleep }

3. Remind Grandma of your little one's favorite dinner

Children like routine and knowing what’s coming next. Being somewhere different, even for just a little while, can feel like a big change. Encourage Grandma to keep things as similar to home as possible. One way they can do this is by offering your child food that they're used to and enjoy eating.

4. Let your child help pack their bag

As the big day approaches, encourage your little one to help pack their overnight bag. This will both make the trip more real in their mind and help them take ownership of the experience. Be sure they have the essentials but, other than that, let your little one have control. If packing their favorite books or blocks helps them feel better about going, let them do it.

5. Don’t forget their favorite lovey 

If your child has a favorite blanket, doll, or teddy bear, be sure to pack it along with their other essentials. Even if it seems silly, comfort items can go a long way towards making a child feel at home, especially in your absence. 

{ MORE: Got a Little Traveler? Check Out These Sweet Gifts! }

6. Connect with your child

Pick a time that you’ll connect with your child and stick to it. Whether it’s a quick phone chat as they eat their dinner or Facetiming in for their bedtime story, make yourself available and shower your little one with love and attention for a few minutes. Dropping your little one off for the night for the first time can be nerve-wracking for both of you but, in time, your little one will likely learn to love heading to Grandma's!

Good luck!

How do you help your little one feel comfortable when they stay the night away from home?

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How to Help Your Toddler Feel Comfortable Sleeping Over at Grandma’s

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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