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Sleep Training and Daycare

A common obstacle I see my clients face is what to do when they send their little ones to daycare.

Whether they’ve just got their little one on a carefully planned sleep schedule or they are planning to start one, a problem may arise if daycare doesn’t follow a similar schedule.

If you have the option to do a little shopping around, try and do your best to find a daycare that follows at least a similar schedule to the one you’re comfortable with.

Sleep is such a crucial element of your little one’s development and daily life. It should be considered when you’re choosing where they’ll be spending their day. So, I’m a huge advocate of shopping around until you find one that’s on the same page as you, nap-wise.

However, you may not have the luxury of choice if they are not many childcare providers in your area or there are long wait lists. So, shopping around may not be an option.

Or maybe your little one has already started going to daycare and they only put the kids down for one nap a day.

In this instance, the most important thing to do is communicate with the caregivers on what you’re okay with and what your child needs. Let them know that you’ve been working on a naptime schedule and ask if they can accommodate the times you’ve been working with. If they agree, great! Many daycares are happy to have a baby that sleeps a lot and are always happy to have one that goes to sleep easily. Champion sleepers are welcome everywhere they go!

It’s also important that you let them know if you’re okay with a little bit of crying while baby falls asleep. If you don’t tell them otherwise, they’ll almost always soothe baby to sleep in one way or another as soon as they start to make some noise.

However, some daycares have a policy regarding crying, and will pick baby up and soothe them as soon as they start crying regardless of your instructions. This can be frustrating if you know your little one will fall asleep after 45 seconds of fussing, but if it’s the policy of the daycare, there’s not much you or the staff can do about it, so it’s best to just focus on how to minimise the effect they have on the program.

Again, this is where communication comes into it. Let them know what ‘sleep props’ you would prefer to avoid and which ones you are okay with. If baby has previously had a strong association between rocking and falling asleep and you have worked extremely hard to break this habit, ask them to soothe your baby without picking her up. Most daycare providers are happy to make some arrangements with parents if it means a happy, sleeping baby and a happy, satisfied parent.

The good news is, as far as sleep routines are concerned, babies are usually able to distinguish the difference between what happens at daycare and what happens at home. They have an easier time realising that, even though they might have gotten rocked to sleep in the one environment, it doesn't necessarily mean they’ll be getting the same treatment at home.

On a personal note, after 18 months of daycare I almost had a conniption when my son’s day care providers told me they sit by his side and pat him to sleep. He has been an AMAZING independent sleeper since 4-months of age and NEVER need such assistance. In that same moment I was taken back by the fact this had not impacted Rory’s sleep at home whatsoever. What a little champ.

So let this ease your mind if you are worried about your baby’s great sleep skills going backwards!

The other silver lining is that nap time sleep isn’t quite as deep and “high-quality” as nighttime sleep. The night is when baby really gets the good hours of rejuvenation and restorative effects of a solid snooze, so even though they might be missing out on some nap time, it’s not as bad as if they weren’t getting those hours at night.

I’m not usually big on making exceptions to the rules, as routine and consistency is such an important part of a baby’s sleep. However, sometimes there is no choice, and you just have to work with what you’ve got.

Work with your day care, and when communicating your wishes explain why they’re important.

Whatever they can’t accommodate, well... you might as well accept it and move on.

Contact our sleep consultant today to book your free introductory consultation.


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