If you work outside of the home, a huge decision is who is going to take care of your little one when you go back to work. Common choices are daycare, private in-home care, a nanny, or if you’re fortunate, grandma. Daycare is usually the more affordable and practical option for those without family in the area.
So, how do you deal with daycare and sleep training?
Sleep is a crucial element of your little one’s development and their day to day life. It should be one of the main factors that influence your daycare decision. I encourage you to shop around until you find a provider that is on the same page as you, nap-wise.
Ideally, you’ll find a daycare with a similar schedule, but often we are required to make a decision about daycare even before our little one arrives. Some daycares have long waiting lists and you have to apply almost the minute you’ve found out that you are pregnant.
What to do if your daycare doesn’t follow your schedule?
One of the biggest hurdles that my clients face is that their current daycare provider doesn’t follow the same schedule as their carefully planned nap schedule. Here are some tips:
- Talk to your Daycare about naptimes
See if your daycare is open to working with your schedule. This is actually doing them a favor, as your child will fall asleep more readily and make their job easier. A consistent nap time is easier for you, your caregiver, and your little one, and champion sleepers are welcome everywhere they go!
- Communicate your comfort level with crying.
Tell your caregiver that you’re alright with a little bit of crying while your baby falls asleep. Some daycares have a policy about crying and will pick up a baby and soothe them right away. Just encourage them that your little one will fall asleep after a few minutes of fussing. However, if they won’t accept any crying, focus on other ways to minimize sleep props.
- Encourage that they eliminate sleep props.
Tell your daycare providers to avoid the use of pacifiers (if your baby is older than 4 months). If they have a policy about no crying, ask them to soothe your baby by gently talking to your little one and not to pick them up or rock them. Again, most daycare providers are happy to make some arrangements with parents if it means a happy, sleeping baby and a happy, satisfied parent.
- Consistent Crib
Ask if your child could be placed in the same crib in the same area of the room, preferably a dark corner. Also, ask that they don’t use the crib as a play area. The crib should only be associated with sleep, not play.
- Consider getting Duplicates from Home
Try to create consistency across all sleeping situations – white noise machine, lovey, sleep sack, etc.
Making the Adjustment with Daycare
There are many daycare options and not all will fit your schedule or needs. Also, if you are just beginning your sleep training journey, consider starting over a weekend so that you can spend 2-3 solid days setting your routine.
If your child is getting less sleep than you think, observe your little one for a few weeks. If he or she is handling things well, continue with your provider. But, if you notice that the lack of sleep is affecting your baby’s health, or their sleep at night, consider having further conversations with them or making a daycare change.
There is good news if you do run into a situation where the only available option doesn’t follow your timetable. Babies are often able to distinguish, somewhat, between home and daycare routines. They come to understand that rocking in one environment doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to get the same treatment at home. Keep this in mind regarding what factors you’re okay with accepting.
The other good news, nap time sleep is important but not as pivotal as deep, high-quality nighttime sleep. Nighttime sleep is more rejuvenating and restorative. So, if you are providing a solid nighttime environment, your child will get the rest they need.
Ideally, you will find a daycare that meets your needs. If you don’t, work with your daycare – communicate your needs and explain why these things are important. Hopefully, they will be accommodating which will make their job easier.
If you have any questions about sleep training or how to establish consistent sleep routines, please schedule a time to chat.