Problems Napping at Grandma's

Updated on August 23, 2008
A.S. asks from Bettendorf, IA
24 answers

My mother-in-law watches our son while we go to work. There are days where he will sleep a total only a HALF HOUR (he sleeps in a pack n play at her house)! She told my husband we don't understand how hard it is to put him down. Of course we do we are his parents. There are some times, whether it is nap time or bed time, that he will take an hour to go down. Others he is out in 5 minutes. We keep trying to tell her the things we do at home for him (short of actually writing out his schedule) and are about at our wits end. She has been watching him now for almost 7 months. She will take him to the mall or take him to lunch at her old work, which that is where my husband works too, and that is usually during when he should be napping. But she just doesn't seem to take his needs into account. Everytime we try to talk to her about it, she gets all defensive and tells us that she raised two kids and they turned out just fine or tells us if we can find someone to do a better job...

He will nap for us at home anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hrs per nap (he takes two). I take him up at nap time turn on his white noise machine, music and give him a bottle (my husband gives the bottle in the family room). Then I rock him for a little while and then lay him down, sometimes he wakes right up away and fusses. We try to leave him, but that hasn't worked for us. I rock him a little bit longer and then he is fine or I just pat his bottom while he is laying on his side (his favorite sleeping position).

I am worried about his well being later on. I know you shouldn't believe everything you read in books, but I've read that the lack of sleep can build up and they can have short tempers (which could be starting) and have other problems. Sorry for this being so long, but if anyone has any suggestions on what else we can do without offending her that would be greatly appreciated. Also, she is planning on only watching him two days a week starting in April, so I don't want to have problems when we send him somewhere else. Oh, one other thing he will sleep in his pack n play at my parents house for an hour and a half or so too per nap.

Thank you!

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So What Happened?

Thank you to all of you for your advise. The portable crib thing sounds like a good thing to try. I know there are kids that just don't like them. The next day after I posted this he did take 2 one and a half hour naps at Grandma's. She felt pretty good about it and so did we. I will take everyone's advise into account.

More Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

First of all, I have had the same issues as you when my son is watched by my in-laws, so I understand where you are coming from. What has worked for me is to just approach my in-laws with a "I need your help. Will you help us out with this?" mentality, not a "you have to do this" mentality. I ask for their help with keeping my child on a schedule to make all of our lives easier. I also ask if their is anything I can do to help them. I do get more cooperation with this method, there's less tension, and the rest I just let go of. I figure it's better for my son to be with his grandparents than with another daycare provider, who can't love him as much as the grandparents can. In the end, what's better...better sleep or better love?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

Are you paying her? If so, then yes, she should probably try to do things the way you want. If not, then count yourself lucky you have someone to take care of your child for free and LOVES them like no other. I don't know your situation, if you have to work because you are a single mom, or your hubby is out of work, but it always kills me when all these moms complain about the way other people are taking care of their kids. How about stay home and take care of your own kids? It will eliminate any and all of these problems people are having. Some moms do have to work, and I have the utmost respect for them, because I can only imagine how hard it is to work, and then come home and work more. It is hard enough without a full time job outside the to you moms, I give you props. The time you have with your children is so SMALL. Once they hit 5 and get into kindergarten...that's it...they are gone. So relax, enjoy them, and don't burn bridges with the people you love over something so minimal. Your child will be will work itself out. I do believe that every child is different, and some just might not be able to sleep in different environments.

I don't think she is trying to disobey you on purpose. I do think the advice on talking to her about it more is good(from poster Chris H), but I would NOT lie to her...that could come back to bite you on the butt! Sorry to say, but he probably won't be able to have the EXACT same schedule with multiple people watching him.

Sorry if anyone feels like they are being "ripped" on. I just have a hard time understanding why people want to be away from their children when you have such a small window of time with them anyway. I have had cancer twice, and I am only 29, so hence the strong opinion on staying home with your kids. I do hope you can get something figured out and wish you the best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sioux Falls on

Let me start by saying that I can empathize with you. My MIL and I don't always see eye to eye on everything, and have had a few discussions about the children, but with that said, I know that she does have the children's concerns close to her heart as I do...but we just happen to have different styles of parenting. Now with that said, let me answer your question
I'm the mom of 5 wonderful children. My youngest baby will be turning 1 this weekend. I think you really are making to big a deal about this and it's unfair to compare the grandmas. As it's been stated before, everyone has different styles and temperments about children; and maybe your MIL really doesn't have the stomach to listen to your baby cry himself to sleep, or the patience to do everything you do for his bedtime routine. Plus, she isn't the mom or your mom. The reason why I say this is because your mom probably taught you how to hold and cuddle the babies, and has a similiar style to you, whereas, your MIL is someone totally different.
My baby, seriously will not sleep anywhere but her crib! Now, I've been through this baby thing plenty of times, but she seriously won't. When we're at home, she'll sleep for 2-3 hours per nap time. There's been times, because of schedules of my other children this summer, where she didn't nap all day...we're talking 7:30 am to 8:30 pm. Which I've never heard of....but she is doing fantastic she may go to bed right when we get home, or need some extra rocking to help her "stop" and realize that she's home...but she's a very happy, well-adjusted baby. I think you really need to take into account the temperment of your child--even being so young.
If your going to stress about this, then take him out...but keep in mind, that when he's at grandma's, I'm sure he's being adored,loved and doted upon matter how good of a daycare you find, he'll never get that from people who are doing it for a job. Count your blessings for what you have, and don't nitpick because it's not perfect or exactly like you would do. I also had to learn this, but like I said, appreciate the fact that you have grandma to watch him...because in the end, I really do believe that he will be a better child because he wasn't just another "cute" baby.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rapid City on

I am a grandma who watches my little granddaughter a lot. For the first year, I watched her daily while her mom worked. She is now a stay at home mom but they come over almost every day and we have a good play date.

Ever since my granddaughter was born, nap times have been spent with grandma in the recliner/rocking chair (we both nap). It is the most precious time we have together and I wouldn't ever want to give that up. She won't nap at grandma's without it being with me on the chair. She gets rocked to sleep and then put in her pack and play at night and does great with it. At home they have their own routine and she doesn't have a problem with it or the changes at grandma's house.

Grandma's should follow the parents rules for most part and schedules are good but not set in stone. Grandma loves your son more then any day care provider can ever love him. You probably don't pay her, and if you do, I bet it isn't the amount that you would pay a day care. Grandma probably doesn't want to sit around the house all the time so she takes him out with her. There isn't anything wrong with that. If he is taking 2 naps a day, she would have to go out during nap times since there isn't much other time to do it. Your son will be fine if he misses a nap time or is cut down to one nap a day. He will be giving his second nap up pretty soon anyway. If it is taking you a hour to put him down for a nap, my guess is he is giving up a second nap already.

My advice is simple. You could keep grandma as babysitter and have it cheap/free and let her do it her way while she is watching him as long as she is following most of your rules on things like sweets and such, or you could find a babysitter who will follow your schedule (not many would take a hour to put a baby down though) and pay for it. I would take Grandma over a babysitter anyday because of the safety and the love he recieves.

One other thing, all the time my granddaughter has stayed with me helped when her parents had to be gone for 3 weeks when my daughter in laws father got very ill and was hospitalized then passed away. Without the time spent with me, she would never had handled being away from her parents that long. A day care couldn't keep him around the clock if you ever need them too.

About grandparents being of a different generation, we are and most of us DO NOT nor should we have the attitude of "I raised mine, you raise yours". Most grandparents are very willing to help, just as our parents were there to help us with ours. That is what families do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I think that you should try to get your son used to napping without the white noise machine and most importantly NO bottle at nap time. EEK! You are going to cause tooth decay! If you had multiple children, the world would not come to a halt because it was Nathan's nap time. The other kids would have places to go and people to see. Nathan would learn to nap on the go. Grandma is right, it is too hard to get him to take a nap. Quit making it hard for her. Start by teaching him to go down for a nap on his own. By putting him down for a nap once he is asleep, isn't really working. If you are going to have him go to day care, they aren't going to give him a bottle, play music and turn on the white noise machine. You need to teach him how to fall asleep on his own now...before you have a nightmare on your hands. That being said, I would thank your MIL for all she does. She really is the primary caregiver in his life right now and that alone is hard work!



answers from Minneapolis on

I know that grandparents make for cheap (often free) day care, but they are also from a different generation AND they are done raising kids. Their appropriate attitude is, "I raised mine, you raise yours."

When parents lean on grandparents for child care - especially on a daily basis - they need to be prepared for the independent spirit that comes with it. NO parent will be following the orders of her/his children when it comes to raising kids.

If you really need the child care from a grandparent, let go of the naps, and lots of other things as well. The only child care option that will follow your instructions is one that you pay for and which is not related to you.



answers from La Crosse on

You're right to be concerned about your son's lack of sleep. She doesn't respect you, and you need to find a daycare provider who does.



answers from Madison on

Hi A.,
I have a very similiar situation. My son (who is now 10 months old) will only take 1 nap a day at day care - and if we are lucky it is a 30 mintue one. At home on weekends he will take 2-3 naps, usually 1 hour long. This has been going on since he started day care back at 3 months old. Even as a tiny baby he wouldn't sleep long there. I've talked to the day care, but gotten nowhere. So, I've come to the conclusion that he just sleeps better in his own bed - like many adults - and that if he is not at home he is too worried about missing out on the fun by sleeping. I have decided not to worry. Everyone has different sleeping patterns and that is okay. Some of us need more sleep than others. My husband is a good example, he has never needed much sleep, even as a young child per his mom. The books are for guideance, but they don't know your little one and his personality or needs.



answers from Omaha on

We have a similar routine to yours (white noise, rock with bottle in room). However, we noticed by lying her down when she was drowsy but not sleeping, she wouldn't fuss as much when we laid her down. We also started early on just giving kisses, lying her down, saying good-night, turning around and walking out, and shutting the door behind us...whether she was screaming/fussing or not. It does hurt to hear her cry like that. Sometimes the fussing lasts 30 seconds, sometimes 10 minutes. But I read they need to learn to soothe themselves to sleep. I also read that by hesitating and turning around to pick him up again when he starts fussing, you are showing him that you are worried about leaving him alone (or something like that). If the crying is still persistent after 15-20 minutes, I will go get her and finish the bottle or assume she wasn't ready for the nap.

We have our daughter in an in-home daycare, which lends to a similar problem with sleeping outside of our home. She doesn't have a room or her own crib at daycare. You can't shut the door and let her "cry it out". She is out in the middle of the living room in a pack and play. If she cries, she disturbs the others. It is also hard for the provider to "let" another person's child cry like that. So my 11-month old might get a 30 minute nap per day there. Instead of arguing, we just learned to bring her home (every other day at 4:30, and 1:30) and lay her down immediately. She'll usually sleep for another hour or 1 1/2 hours.

Anyway, find what works for you. Every child is different. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

My first reaction to your issue was why is she watching him? It always poses problems when a family member (especially a grandma) watches your child because they will not listen to how YOU want things done. I don't think there is a way to talk to her without offending her -- but maybe that is what she needs. Nathan is YOUR child and should be raised the way you want him to be raised. She had her shot at being a mom and now she needs to step back and allow you to have your turn. Your hubby may want to step in and put his foot down -- they tend to only listen to their "boys". I know that consistency is the it isn't doing Nathan any favors by not having a consistent schedule between the two households. Good luck!!



answers from Waterloo on

At 8 1/2 mths your little guy should still be taking 2 naps. And Grandma should know how important those naps are at his age. I would write down the schedule you'd like him to be on and ask her to stick to it. It can be hard to get an infant down for a nap, but the key is consistency. If she can get him on a good schedule then she shouldn't have too much trouble.



answers from Minneapolis on

This totally sounds like our story. First and foremost, get rid of the "Pack n' Play". We found out the hard way, none of our kids liked sleeping in them. These don't offer enough support to give the baby a sense of security. We had great success with a portable crib we purchased through Toys R' Us online. This was about 2 years ago, so I'm not sure if they still carry this. But it is made by a company called I Luv. It's the same size as a pack and play, but it sits high like a regular crib, is wooden, folds flat, is very portable, easy to open, has a mattress, the stability and depth of a good crib. Our kids could sleep peacefully in this. If you can't find one at TRU, just do a general search on yahoo or google for "portable crib" and you should get a great selection to choose from.

Second, if your mother-in-law is like my mother; over 60, well-intentioned, but lacking the patience of a young mom, the baby is probably picking up on her tension and anxiety and is not feeling too comfortable around her and may be fussy or edgy around your mil.

Face it, she probably doesn't have the stamina she used to have to manage a demanding baby, and the day to day drill of changing diapers, feedings, and providing stimulating play is alot for her to manage. She probably has too much pride to tell you this is where she's at, and would rather just tell you she's raised two of her own instead to get you off her back. She's probably feeling a bit stressed about this, and is super sensitive to anything you might say, even if it's helpful. She feels she doing you a favor and doesn't deserve to be second guessed. She's probably taking the baby to her old office or avoiding naps because she's looking for solace or a diversion to help get her through.

The only way this will continue to work for you is to lower expectations somewhat and let her call the shots, or perhaps look at this as a short term solution and be looking for a more objective party to watch your baby.

Just keep in mind if there's tension and no seeming relaxation on either side in the near future, this probably won't last long before there's a knock-down ideological blow out over something totally stupid like whether she put the baby in a onsie versus a t-shirt. Just remember, she's going to save face, and make you the villan. She won't want to admit she failed, let you down, or is just (gasp!) too old to take care of a baby.

If you really are financially dependent on her helping you out, I'd pick my battles carefully.. and be prepared for the inevitable. Do yourself a favor, and either bite your tongue (unless the baby's in danger) or take her cues that she's probably not up for the challenge, and is hoping you'll get it and find another day care solution soon.



answers from Green Bay on

Hi A.,
Nap time defintetely is a must. My mom watches my, soon to be, three yr. old daughter and 7 m. old son while I'm at work two days a week. Sometimes neither of them get as much sleep as when they are at home, but not for Nana's lack of trying... However, she is definetely home with them during nap time and attempting to get them down.. My daughter usually always gets hers in, which is still two or more hours. Sometimes it's later than I'd like but I'm just glad that she gets one because she's a pistol if she doesn't... I defintely wouldn't want my mom taking the kids galavanting around town during nap time.... Does your mother-in-law watch Nathan for free? Sometimes this can make things awkward. It's hard to criticize some of the diff. things that my mom does with our kids because she babysits for free... I would just really emphasize that he NEEDS his nap and that you and your husband are the ones dealing with a short tempered baby in the evening due to a short nap.... If she still just doesn't seem to try to get him down and it really bothers you look for alternative daycare. Of course, this can pose a real problem if this free babysitting. If that's the case and you don't have more options just take whatever nap you can get out of his grandma time and maintain a good nap schedule when he's at home.
Most importantly make sure that your husband is behind you 100%! I know that it can be hard to deal with a mother-in-law;-) Maybe both you and your husband can talk to her together about the importance of a longer nap.

Good luck!



answers from Davenport on

If you are extremely concerned you need to find a new babysitter. This will, of course, offend g-ma but you have to do what is best for your child. You could always tell a little lie (yes, bad, I know) and mention that you have to get the kid into your preferred daycare when there is an opening and you simply cannot wait and hope for an opening in April.



answers from Minneapolis on

You need to insist that she follow YOUR schedule! He is your child and she is being very disrespectful of your wishes. It is very important to keep your child on a sleeping schedule and she is ignoring his needs. Have your husband talk with her if necessary, but don't let it just slide. She will have to get over herself and realize all children are different. What worked for her two kids won't necessarily work for someone else's kids. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I too am a working mom with who shares your concerns about lack of sleep during the day. My baby naps well on the weekends and less well during the week at daycare, but it did get BETTER over time.

The key to sleeping more at daycare is a CONSISTENT schedule, and putting baby to bed BEFORE they are over tired. Things I'm sure you've read.

I like the poster's advice to ask for "help" from your MIL on this issue, rather than demanding a change. How she accomplishes this is up to her, since baby will respond differently to each caregiver. But since baby is with MIL 5 days a week, MIL should be able to find a schedule and routine that gets baby 2 nap times per day, and at least 1 hour per nap. Baby can wake up, but baby needs to stay in crib for at least 1 hour. He'll learn to sleep longer.

Luckily, moving to 1 nap per day is just around the corner:

Tension with MILs is really hard. I hope your hubby is a good intermediary for you. Best of luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

My husband is a stay at home dad. To give him a break, my mom watches our 9 month old daughter once a week.

Our daughter does not sleep as much at grandma's as she does at home either.

No offense, but my opinion is that you are making a big deal out of nothing. Grandma's house is fun and exciting so he/she does not want to nap as much. He/She will make up for it at another time.



answers from Fargo on

If your mother-in-law is not taking your son's needs into account or is more about her own agenda then I would find someone else, seriously. It doesn't sound like it's working out. I really dislike that she said she raised two kids and they turned out fine... that's a passive-aggressive way of saying that it's her way or the highway. My mom has said the same thing to me and I've learned that she just doesn't respect my parenting since I'm doing many things differently than she did. You are right- sleep is so important...and so is finding someone else who thinks so, especially when it's your son!



answers from Minneapolis on


When it comes to having Grandma watch him, you get what you get. If it is that much of a problem for you, I would just find someone else to watch him. It sounds like you have already done that starting in April. Bouncing from your place to new place to Grandma's place may be a lot. You may just want him to go to Grandma's for visits, not for daycare.

Some Grandmas spoil. Some aren't real good with schedules, discipline, consistency, moderation, etc. At least my kids grandmas aren't. That is why we don't have grandmas take care of our kids. They visit on a social level, but they aren't responsible for our children because there would be so many problems.

A couple of times we had my MIL take the kids so we could do a second honeymoon for 4-5 days. We came home to bratty, sleep deprived, TV zombie, out of control children pumped full of nothing but sugar. What could we say? Nothing. She had done us a big favor and we had no right to say anything. We lived with the consequences, brought things back to normal and there was no long term damage.

Good luck,



answers from Milwaukee on

You are his mom, and you know what is best for him. If you think he needs more sleep - then he probably does! Go by your instinct.

My MIL offered to take care of my son when I was between sitters. This arrangement lasted two weeks but felt like two months. I finally realized that, while she is family and I love her dearly, I had to make the choices best for my son. It's a lot easier to tell a sitter who is not related what you want and don't want to happen for your child's care. For family, even if you do tell them, they can always wave the cards that your MIL is waving ("I've raised kids of my own" for example). So, that is what I'd suggest to you, is finding a different child care arrangement.

It sounds like you've tried really hard to be diplomatic, so I'm sure that you will do a good job with this transition to a different sitter too. In reality though, since it's your husband's mother, he should probably be the one to handle that so you don't look like the bad guy!

Remember, it's about what is best for your son, not about what is best for your MIL. =)

(and ignore the posters ripping on working moms, too bad we can't support each other instead of pointing fingers!)



answers from Grand Forks on

He is your child-find someone else to watch him or choose a childcare center or home daycare. Those folks will listen to your requests! Sleep deprivation can cause a myriad of issues in children.



answers from Cedar Rapids on

I have learned that it is not always the best to have relatives babysit full time.. We use to have my mother-in-law watch the kids mon-fri and she just got to the point where she was doing what she thought was best, didn't want to do what we wanted, and it was nothing difficult. She just thought she knew better then us since she had raised 3 kids of her own and she thought that she knew our kids way better then us. Good luck to you. I hope that you can reason with her.



answers from Minneapolis on

what you should do is what is in the best interest of your son...he needs to nap. period.

you will have to find different care to get your son the kind of care he needs and deserves. grandma isn't doing it and she has apparently already told you in her own words she won't.



answers from Omaha on

I think the problem might be your son hasn't learned to put himself to sleep. If you are putting him in his bed when he is asleep that is probably the issue. At about the age your son is about the same time I got my son to put himself to sleep. And he is 23 months now and an awesome sleeper. He goes to day care part time and those days they have no problem putting him to bed and ever so often if my parents watch him at night they don't have any problems putting him to bed. The way I started getting him to put himself to sleep, is first have strict sleep schedule! Go to bed at the same time and nap at the same time. And make a routine, sounds like you have but try to have your mother-in law use the same routine. But what I did was I would get him to lay down in his bed and and I would sit next to the crib. I wouldn't make eye contact, talk to him, nothing, just sit there. He would stand and stare at me, throw his pacifer on the ground, but I would just sit there (occasionally putting the pacifier back in his bed) Eventually he would fall asleep the first few times I was sitting there for 30-45 minutes. But he didn't scream or anything he just eventually laid down and fell asleep. I started sitting there shorter and shorter amounts of time, now he is the best sleeper. Of course not everything works for every child, but it worked for me :) I hope this helps.

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