When Family Doesn’t Agree with Your Child’s Sleep Plan

As the holiday season approaches, you may be planning on traveling to visit family or hosting family members who come to town. And with that, you’re bound to be in a situation where someone in your family says one of the following statements about your child: 

-Why do you care so much about their sleep? 

-Oh, come on. Just let them stay up later. 

-I didn’t do that with you, and you turned out fine.

If you’re here, chances are, you care about your child sleeping well. And when you’re in a situation with people who don’t have the same philosophy or understanding of sleep, it can be tense.

I have a pretty supportive family, but whenever my mom would come over and I would track Olivia’s wake windows, I could see the questioning in her eyes. She never commented on it to me, but I could tell she was being a little judgy. And your family members may be the same, or they may be more vocal about their disapproval or lack of understanding.

But here’s the deal: you’re in charge of your child’s schedule and sleep. And while it’s perfectly okay to relax the standards a bit when you’re with family, it’s also okay to stand firm in your routines if you believe it’s best for your child.

So today, I want to talk about how you can handle those situations when someone comments about your child’s sleep, their schedule, or even the sleep plan you’re following.

When someone questions your parenting choices, stand firm

The first piece of encouragement I want to give you is to stand firm in your decision. Before you arrive at your family members house (or they arrive to your house), decide what approach you will be taking. Is your child going to have a flexible schedule, or will it remain the same?

For some children, having consistency is vital, so this may be your choice. And you will need to stand firm in that, even when an in-law questions you.

What might standing firm look like?

When it’s 7 p.m. and time for bed and an aunt says, “What? It’s too early. Let them stay up,” you can simply say, “This is her bedtime. She will be in such a better mood tomorrow if we stick with her schedule.”

End of discussion.

Or if your child tends to fuss at bedtime, and you usually walk out of the room because you know in 3 minutes she’ll settle down and fall asleep, grandma may passively say, “Oh, poor baby. I can’t believe you’re making her cry. I feel so bad. Let me go in.”

Then you can say, “No. She will settle down in a few minutes. And if she doesn’t, I will respond to her.”

Know that in these moments, your family members aren’t really directing their questions or disapproval at you, but more at the situation. They may not get to see your child often, and they may just express their disappointment in a way that feels as though you’re being targeted. 

So when these comments arise, brush it off.

Brush off the comments

If you don’t want to get into a huge debate about your child’s sleep plan or schedule, you don’t have to. You can simply state, “This is just what works for us.”

It might be best to ignore comments and not engage, especially since feelings and emotions tend to run high around the holiday season. So when your sister makes a snide remark or your mom says, “I never had to do that with you and you turned out fine,” ignoring the comments, although difficult, may be the best choice you make.

Walk out of the room, turn on the TV, or send me a message on Instagram and we can commiserate together!

It wasn’t until I became a sleep consultant that I realized how polarizing sleep can be. It’s like anything in parenting: there are people on different sides of camp. Some who believe that children will just sleep when they’re ready, and some who know they need structure with their child.

And some people just aren’t nice when it comes to sharing their beliefs. And that’s disappointing. But you need to remember that no one in the room has been in your situation.

Think back to when your grandma raised her kids and compare that to how you are raising your child.

My grandma, for instance, didn’t work after she had kids. So if one of her kids woke up multiple times, she didn’t have the stress of knowing she was going to have to spend a 12-hour day at work the next day. She could just sleep when her baby slept.

My grandma had a village — she had in-laws, parents, cousins. Maybe they all didn’t come over daily, but in the midst of a pandemic, you likely don’t have the same support your mom or grandma had while raising a child. And that can take a huge toll on parents.

Keep that in mind when someone, especially from a different generation, makes a comment about your parenting decisions. They just don’t understand the situation you’re in, so their comments should be taken lightly.

Don’t worry about pleasing anyone

As a parent, your job is to take care of your child. Period.

It’s not to worry about what anyone else thinks you should be doing. I know it can be hard if you’re a people-pleaser, but your role as a mom is one million times more important than your role as a cousin, sister, or in-law. And truthfully, you’re the only person in the room who is caring about your child.

What do I mean by that?

My sister recently went on a trip to visit family, and everyone was so excited to see her baby. But their trip was rough, and her baby didn’t sleep well on the way. And even when they got to her in-laws house, her baby didn’t sleep well.

My sister, of course, was concerned with his sleep — she knew if he didn’t sleep, he’d be fussy, she wouldn’t sleep, and it just wouldn’t be a great experience overall.

But no one else was thinking that. They were focused on snuggling and playing. 

Wherever you go this season, you will be the only one who is concerned about the overall well-being of your child. That’s just instinctual. Yes, your mom will care about your child’s well-being, but she also is going to want to spend time with them, even if that means their schedule is thrown off.

And let’s talk about that — should you consider easing up on your child’s schedule?


For some children, they can adapt really well to new environments and situations. So keeping them up 1-2 hours past their bedtime won’t matter.

But other children don’t adapt well to change, and may wake up more frequently or be fussier, and that in turn can impact you.

I would highly encourage you to continue to follow your child’s age-appropriate wake windows to prevent them from becoming overtired. One day won’t completely throw everyone off, but you don’t want too many days where your child stays up too late.

And I do believe that children who have an established sleep pattern may do better than children who won’t. So if you want to work on your child’s sleeping habits before the holiday season is in full swing, download my guide to solve night wakings.

Above all, I want you to enjoy this holiday season, and I want you to know that you’re your child’s best advocate. So follow your gut, even if people don’t agree.

The holiday season is my favorite time of year, and I hope that this holiday series is helpful as you prepare and plan. In last week’s episode, I shared my top 3 tips for how to ensure your child gets sleep when traveling by car or staying at someone’s house. If you haven’t listened, go ahead and check it out now. 

I am wishing you a stress-free and joyful holiday season, wherever that leads you. And I hope these sleep tips will help encourage you as you focus on the number one thing: your child.

Be sure to give me a follow on Instagram, where I’ll be sharing more tips as the holidays come near. Thank you so much for being here. Sweet dreams, y’all.

Share this post

I’m Katie

certified pediatric sleep consultant

Fueled by equal parts caffeine and passion, I spend my days helping exhausted mamas get their babies the sleep they need. 

search the site

Nap Quiz

Let’s make sure your child is getting the sleep they need.

Our free, quick quiz will help you identify whether your child is getting the number of hours of sleep they need.

featured posts

post categories

popular posts

Get better sleep today!

Book a consultation with me and get started on better sleep today!

Scroll to Top