The ABCs of Napping at Daycare
Daycare. When things are going smoothly at daycare we love our daycare. When things are off track at daycare, whether it be experiencing behavior issues, policy issues or even sleeping issues it really does stress us out. And the snowball effect of being off track at daycare is that you then can’t concentrate while you are at work! If the issue you are experiencing is that your baby is not napping well at daycare, my guess is that you are dreading all day at work that your baby is going to be crabby at pick up time. And you miss your little one terribly and want hm to be a HAPPY BABY for your time together when you arrive home at the end of the day. We often get questions about improving baby’s sleep at daycare. Here are my three top tips for improving naps and daycare…
Tip #1- First, find out why he's not sleeping well at daycare. It's been my experience that many parents may simply avoid the topic of sleep at daycare and hope for the best. I tell everyone that when you are interviewing for child care find out what are the policies and procedures around naptime. Are feeds, motor skills and sleep scheduled daily? When does naptime occur in relation to feeds? Is there a quiet place to sleep? Are the lights turned down low for naptime? Or is it more the practice of babies falling asleep in the stroller ride? Dig deeper and find out if the situation, environment and routine is similar to what you have created at home for sleep.
Tip #2- Find out as much as you can about exactly how your baby falls asleep for naps at daycare. Some daycares will absolutely follow your preferences. Remember, you are in charge when it comes to your baby. You are the parent. Daycare should be able to put your child to sleep in a manner that you request, of course within reason. And by within reason I mean having a conversation with the director stating “I would like my baby put down, awake, and he falls asleep on his own. All he needs is a quiet environment and a crib of his own and he'll do great.”
Is your baby rocked to sleep at daycare? Bounced to sleep? If the routine is opposite of what you have worked really hard to create, you may need to set up a meeting to really spell out your wishes. Without question-sleep is important.
Tip #3- For some babies, they just don't sleep as well when they are outside of the home or at daycare. None of us do really. We all sleep better in our own beds, so that makes sense to me. If you find that your baby is going to sleep in the manner you requested, daycare is trying really hard and he doesn't quite sleep as well and if he's grumpy by 6 pm, then aim for an early bedtime. I always say there is no reason to live with a grumpy, tired child in order to hang on to some magical bedtime that you have created in your mind. Start your bedtime routine at 6:00 pm and put him down by 6:30 pm. That will be perfectly okay. If baby is not going to daycare every day, then on the days he is home with you and sleeping great, it's no problem to stay with your normal bedtime. We do want the body clock to get in line with a consistent bedtime; but there is wiggle room around that plus or minus 30 minutes.