Daycare: a love-hate relationship for parents. Sleep can be a struggle. Frequent illness can be stressful. The work-home-life balance is hard. Here are some tips for managing sleep and daycare, whether you have a newborn or a toddler.
Each daycare is different when it comes to sleeping arrangements. Some daycares have a separate room for sleep, while most do not. There is also the concern that your child will not be able to be fed or rocked to sleep while at daycare, as they might at home. While daycare workers are amazing, they cannot always hold your baby or toddler for a daily contact nap. Some babies and toddlers have a harder time sleeping with environmental noise, while some appear to sleep soundly.
If you are worried about the amount or quality of sleep that your child gets or doesn't get at daycare, here are some ways to work with your daycare on your child's sleep.
Give the Daycare a Good Schedule for your Baby or Toddler
Knowing the best schedule for your child is crucial for your child to sleep at daycare. During the first year, your child's schedule changes every couple of months. Knowing when to shift their schedule and communicating that to your daycare center is very important to daycare sleep success.
Typically, there are baby rooms and toddler rooms.
Baby rooms typically depart from each baby's individual schedule. This can be stressful, particularly because the room is not quiet and dark.
It is common practice for all toddlers to nap at the same time, sometimes moving to a floor bed even before they are in a big kid bed at home. Don't worry - this is a common fear I address in my program while working with children in daycare. It is possible for your toddler to sleep on a mat at school and a crib at home.
Some children take time to acclimate to daycare. If they don't nap on the exact schedule you provide, that's okay! Make sure you get a log of their daily sleep so you can adjust bedtime or offer a late catnap.
Bring Comforts from Home for your Child
Most daycares ask that you provide bedding for your child. This is great, especially now that your child will have comforts from home. If your daycare center provides the bedding, ask if you can bring some comforts from home for their naps.
If they are still in a crib, you can bring crib sheets, a portable sound machine and sleep sacks. If they are in the toddler room and sleeping on a floor bed, ask if you can bring a pillow, pillowcase, blanket and stuffed animal from home.
This will help your child associate sleep in their new environment. Many children learn, and grow accustomed, to their two sleeping environments, both home and daycare. Over time, it will no longer be worrisome about crib/bed confusion in two different locations.
Focus on the Sleep you can Provide at Home
We cannot control how much our children sleep at daycare. Somedays we wish they had more sleep, while some nights we wish they had less daytime sleep. The important thing to remember is that we can control sleep at home, both at night and on the weekend.
If your child is sleep trained and sleeping through the night at home, you can eliminate that worry of daycare sleep. If they take good naps on home days (weekend or other) you can eliminate the worry of daycare sleep as well! If your child is not sleeping well at home or at daycare, I can help improve your child's sleep.
Quality rest is important for our physical and mental health. It is vital for your child to get quality rest during the day and overnight to help their bodies fight off illness and heal when they are sick. From one mama to another, sleep improves our lives in more ways than we can ever truly imagine.
I have worked with families whose children attend daycare, from infants to toddlers. Each child is unique and each child has unique sleep needs. With each one of my clients whose child has attended daycare, we have improved their overnight sleep and their daytime sleep at daycare. Sleep training is possible with a daycare kiddo!
If you are struggling with sleep in your home, schedule a free sleep assessment call to talk about your challenges, your sleep goals and how my 5-step, 3-week, individualized program will help you, your child and your home!
Wishing you restful sleep,
About Danielle: Danielle is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach and founder of The Restful Haus, where she helps families 1:1 with their children ages 0 - 6 years old. She is a New Jersey native and currently resides in Colorado with her husband and 4 daughters (ranging from 21 months to 7 years old). She enjoys spending time with her family, the Jersey Shore, music, traveling with her husband + kiddos and on the rare occasion, sitting down to read a murder mystery book.