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How to Manage Your Baby’s Sleep at Daycare

As a parent, you always want the best for your child.

And as a parent who wants your child to get the best sleep possible, it can be hard when they’re in environments that you have little control over, like daycare.

But just because your child spends their days at daycare doesn’t mean their sleep is destined to be awful.

You absolutely can take steps toward helping your child get the sleep they need, even when not at home.

Recently, a 9-month-old client I was working with began dealing with split nights after only taking 20-minute naps at daycare. Every night, without fail, he was up from 11 p.m. – 3 a.m. Obviously, this was taking a major toll on his parents (and he wasn’t getting the sleep he needed).

Since we knew his daycare schedule was causing him to be overtired each night, I presented the family with a few new schedule options that they could share with their daycare. After the new schedule was implemented, the first nap started to come together.

We were then able to give him a late evening nap at home and brought bedtime earlier, and we soon saw the split night shift a little earlier and it became less frequent.

As nights started getting better, he was taking better naps during the day, and he was able to transition to two naps while working with me. Now, he’s sleeping from 7:30 pm until 6 a.m.!

While daycare naps can be a pain, I want you to know that you have a few options at your disposal. So let’s get to them!

Communication with Your Daycare is Key

The first tool you have is the most important: Communication.

Regardless of whether your child attends a small daycare center in someone’s home or a large daycare center with multiple teachers, talking to the daycare provider is so valuable.

Voicing any concerns you have about your child’s schedule can illuminate factors you weren’t aware of, and it allows the opportunity to work with your child’s daycare. For instance, some daycare providers are regulated by state agencies, and they are limited on things like:

  • How long your child can sleep
  • How much assistance a teacher can provide to help your child fall asleep
  • Where your child can sleep
  • How many naps are offered

Knowing whether there are elements that your daycare has little control over can help you identify areas that they can change, versus areas where you’ll have to get creative.

So having that open communication is vital. Ask your daycare provider whether they’re able to make adjustments to accommodate your child’s current schedule. If yes, great! Share your schedule that is working for your child, or one that is age-appropriate.

And if they are unable to accommodate your request, don’t stop there! Continue to advocate for what your child needs in other ways.

Advocate for Your Child’s Sleep Needs

Chances are, you know what your child needs in order to sleep well. Maybe they always go to sleep in their sleep sack or with their favorite lovey.

Ask the daycare provider if things like that are allowed.

  • Can you bring a sound machine to help drown out the other noise in the daycare center? What if it’s a portable machine that only stays near your child’s bed?
  • Are you able to bring familiar items from home that serve as a cue for your baby to fall asleep comfortably?
  • Can the daycare providers follow the same nap routine that you do at home with your little one?

In some cases, you can even ask your pediatrician to provide a signed letter outlining your child’s sleep needs at that time. Sometimes, a note from a medical professional holds enough clout for your daycare to make those changes.

Most kids in a new daycare setting will require some time to adjust to their new environment and their new schedule. But if you’re able to recreate a piece of home in some way, that can help your child during the transition.

Focus on Sleep at Home

At the end of the day, in some cases, the daycare won’t be able to accommodate your requests. If that’s the scenario for you, focus on what you can work on, which is what happens at home.

Here are a few ideas for you:

  • When you pick your child up from daycare, offer a nap in the car. If your child didn’t sleep well at daycare, chances are, they might just fall asleep on the way home anyway. But bringing a portable sound machine to play while driving can help your little one catch a few zzz’s so that they can make it to bedtime.
  • Offer a late afternoon nap at home. Depending on your child’s schedule and when they come home from daycare, you can offer them a late nap. Usually, late afternoon naps will be shorter, as the goal is to bridge the gap from their last nap until bedtime.
  • Adjust bedtime if needed. If your child does end up taking a later nap, you can push bedtime a little later to allow enough sleep pressure to build. Or, if your child needs an earlier bedtime until their body adjusts to their new nap schedule, you can bring bedtime a little earlier.

I know that daycare sleep can be a stressful topic, as you want your child to be well rested. Ultimately, communicating with your child’s daycare and advocating for their needs will only take you so far. In the end, focusing on what you do have control over is what matters most.

Your child will eventually adjust to their new environment and their new schedule. However, if you’d like to make a game plan for how to help your child adjust at home, let’s set up a discovery call to chat through your options.

Although overwhelming, you’re never on this journey alone. I am happy to partner with you and help ensure your child is getting the best sleep possible.

Let’s chat today!

August 2022