5 Tips for Better Napping at Daycare
As a mom and a sleep consultant, I know firsthand the anxieties that arise around having your little one nap at daycare. My son started daycare when he was around 16 months old (we are spoiled in Canada with our 12-18 month maternity leave), and I remember the first week being filled with lots of tears (mostly on my part) and struggles with napping in the new sleep environment. I have personally found the following tips helpful and recommend them to my clients in order to get their little ones to adjust to napping at daycare.
Keep it familiarIf your child is used to falling asleep at home in a sleep-sack, with a lovey, and with white noise, be sure to provide those items to the daycare so they can mimic the home sleep environment as much as possible to give your little one a sense of comfort. Also, if you have a nap time routine in place at home, share that with your daycare provider so that they can implement it, which will act as a sleep cue for your little one. The more familiarity around naps, the better.
Make sleep environment dark as possibleMany daycare rooms can be bright and overly stimulating during naptime, which can make it difficult for your little one to fall asleep and stay asleep. Discuss with your childcare provider if there is a darker area of the room that they can place your child in or if a separate room for sleeping is an option.
Move to an earlier bedtimeStarting daycare is a big transition and usually causes little ones to get less daytime sleep than they’re used to. To make up for this sleep debt and avoid overtiredness, don’t be afraid to put your child to bed earlier, even as early as 6:00 pm if necessary.
Have great communication and teamwork with daycareBe sure to provide your daycare with a detailed description of your little one’s daily routine, including their naps and naptime routine, so you can work together to ensure accommodations are made to meet their unique sleep needs. Also, be sure to ask how naps went when you pick your child up, so you can adjust bedtime accordingly.
Teach your child to fall asleep independentlyOne of the primary reasons children have difficulty with napping at daycare is because they are unable to fall asleep independently. By teaching them this skill prior to starting daycare, you are setting them up for an easier transition to napping at daycare. Remember, your daycare provider is unable to rock, hold and/or feed five kids to sleep at once.
Starting daycare can be a big adjustment for you and your little one, especially in respect of sleep, so be sure to be flexible and give your child lots of time to adapt. Although daycare sleep isn’t always perfect, the tips above should help with the transition and improve their sleep in the new environment.
Dream Come True Sleep Consulting
Lindsay is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, a mom of 2 boys, an elementary school teacher and a former therapy provider for children with special needs. Lindsay has personally experienced the highs and lows of children’s sleep habits and knows firsthand the importance and benefit of providing customized support. When she provides sleep coaching services, she is passionate about working within a family-centered framework. This means that she will work in partnership with you to understand your personal goals and create an individualized sleep plan that utilizes gentle techniques and is tailored to what will work best for your family. By doing so, she will set your child and family up for success and many restful nights ahead. Her goal as a sleep consultant is to support, educate, empower and cheer you on throughout your journey to a good night’s sleep.
This blog post was originally published 03/24/2020 but has been updated for 2022.
Levi Armstrong said:
It’s interesting to know that if your child is used to falling asleep at home in a sleepsack, with a lovey, and with white noise, be sure to provide those items to the daycare so they can mimic the home sleep environment. My brother will bring his daughter to a pre-school daycare and get her ready for learning since she is of age. I’ll share this with him since it can help with the preparation. Thanks! https://www.learningtreeutah.com/programs
Ivy Baker said:
My nephew needs to start going to daycare soon. It is nice to know that it would be smart to talk to the daycare workers about how he naps. My nephew will fall asleep right away if you turn on a white noise machine. https://www.hopskotch.com.au/about-us