Today I want to talk about how to maximize your child’s sleep at daycare. I’ve had a lot of questions from parents wondering what to do when their child starts daycare. If you have a Live Love Sleep graduate – who sleeps really well and takes awesome naps – on your hands, it can be a little bit worrisome thinking about someone else taking that over.
First, let’s discuss a few things that you should be looking for when interviewing daycares. You really should be shopping around. After all, these are the people who are going to be in charge of your child for the majority of the week. It’s important that you feel comfortable with who you choose.
When you’re doing an interviewing a potential daycare provider, I want you to really focus on naps. Ask the following questions:
- When do the children nap?
- Is there structure around naptime?
- Where will your child be able to nap?
- What will they do if there’s any kind of protest?
- What do they do to create an ideal nap environment?
It’s important that you understand what happens at naptime. Many daycares have very little structure around naps. If your child falls asleep in the stroller, the daycare may call that the nap.
If your child isn’t on the same nap schedule as daycare, then you need to either (1) get ready before you send your child to daycare or (2) find a different one.
Many parents run into problems around the 1 nap a day. Most daycares are on a 1 nap a day schedule and that tends to start around the child’s first birthday. If you have a 10 or 11 month old and you’re looking into starting daycare around the first birthday and the 1 nap a day is their protocol, then you’ll want to start getting ready for that. Start transitioning your child into 1 nap a day at least 4 weeks before they start daycare so that by the time she gets there, she’s used to it, her body clock has had time to get aligned with it, and she should do fairly well.
Communication is Key
Communicate clearly with your daycare about what your expectations are with regards to sleep. When my daughter started daycare, I told her daycare providers that she goes down for her nap around noon and that she’s very good at putting herself to sleep. Therefore I didn’t want them to rock her, or feed her, or do anything else to get her to sleep. She has fantastic sleep skills. They just needed to read her a couple stories and she’d do the rest on her own as long as the room is dark and quite enough that she can sleep. Once I communicated that, my daycare provider knew exactly what I expected and that she’s a good sleeper.
There might be some protest from your child since she’s in a new environment. I encourage you to be clear in communicating that if she cries a bit before her nap then you’re ok with that. If you were a daycare provider in charge of a child and you have no idea if the parent ok with the idea of their baby crying, then you’re probably not going to let that child cry. However, if you’ve explained first that it’s ok with you if your child cries a little bit before the nap because she’s getting used to a new location, and that you’d prefer for your child to fall asleep independently, then most daycare providers will get on board with that because … it’s their job! Remember, you’re the boss. What you say should be the way they follow things.
What to do if the Daycare Won’t Allow Your Child to Fall Asleep Independently
If on the rare chance your child’s daycare won’t allow your child to cry at all because it would interrupt the other children and they’re going to rock him to sleep, or give him a bottle until he falls asleep, then I would find a new daycare. It’s very important to me that my child sleeps well.
However, I have had parents say that it took them months to get into their daycare and they just don’t want to switch. Then I want to let you know that there is a chance that your baby will still do all right. There is a 50/50 chance that your baby will be able to separate her two worlds. What happens at daycare is one thing, and what happens at home is something different. If she’s rocked to sleep during the day at daycare, she won’t expect the same things at home. However, it could go in the opposite direction. She could get used to being rocked to sleep at naptime and now is expecting the same thing at bedtime and is having lots of trouble and or protest.
Remember to interview well before you even start daycare and understand that there will be a transition time. My daughter simply doesn’t sleep as well at daycare as she does at home. It’s noisier, the environment is different and I had to learn to accept that. But I had to make sure that the schedule was similar and get my child ready for that.
Keep in the mind that you are the boss of this child. If the daycare is not going to do what you say, and you’re banging your head against the wall with the daycare provider, then find a new daycare. You want to feel comfortable and secure that they’re doing the very best job for your child. Ultimately, the choice is yours!
If you’re interested in learning some easy strategies for getting your child to nap better, I’d love to chat further!
Simply give me a call at (832) 640-5492, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reply to this e-mail with any questions you might have. I’m here to help!
To healthy sleep,
Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant
Live Love Sleep, LLC
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