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Sleep Training and Daycare

transitioning to daycare and sleep training

One of the toughest decisions as a parent is selecting a daycare for your child, whether that’s a large center, home daycare, or even a friend or grandparent. You’re entrusting your child’s care to another person.

I fully sympathize, it can be a daunting task to pick the right place for your little one. Your children are precious, and you’ve been guiding their life decisions up to this point, including how and when they go to sleep.

Those precious independent sleep skills that you’ve been teaching your child are now in the hands of someone else. The hard nights that you’ve refused to give in to your baby’s demands… the results from powering through… is it all out the window now that they are sleeping at daycare?

Rest assured, daycare doesn’t have to sabotage your child’s newly learned sleep skills. Combining sleep training and daycare can be difficult at first, but it is achievable.

Below, I share a few tips to help make the transition to daycare smooth. The first major tip helps you choose a daycare provider. So, if you already have one in place, skip down to the next section.

Choosing a Daycare Provider

When you’re deciding on a daycare that fits your family’s needs and values, here are few sleep-related items to consider.

  1. Ask what their approach to naps is? Is it scheduled? Do all the children nap at the same time? Is there a specified length of time?

  2. Discuss the sleep environment. Is it semi-private? What is the lighting in the nap room?

  3. Ask whether your child can bring some similar sleep items from home like a favorite blanket, stuffie, or even white noise machine.

  4. Discuss other specific sleep requests such as allowing your child to cry for a few minutes as they work at falling asleep on their own.

Communication. Communication. Communication!

I can’t emphasize it enough, once you’ve selected your daycare and secured your spot, communication is the key to ensuring everyone is approaching your child’s sleep the same.

communicate with your daycare provider

First, inform your caregivers that you’re comfortable with a little fussing or a bit of crying at naptime. Most providers will default to a no-cry approach and will offer a sleep prop if your child fusses a bit. You might have to define what a sleep prop is and explain specifically what props you don’t want your child to use. Ask them to refrain from using pacifiers, rocking, or feeding to sleep.

Also, keep your daycare provider up-to-date with how your working on your baby’s sleep issues. I am pretty positive that they also want your child napping and sleeping to be easier, it makes their job less demanding. A baby that goes down for their nap without a fuss is a caregiver’s dream.

However, it is important to be mindful of your provider’s limitations. Many daycares are in charge of caring for multiple kids at once. They may have specific safety protocols or policies surrounding naptime, so some of your requests might not be accommodated.

Making The Transition To Daycare A Success

working and baby and daycare and sleep

To make the transition from sleeping at home to sleeping at daycare, regardless of the particulars of your chosen provider, here are few tips to ensure success.

  1. When starting with sleep training, start on a Friday. Give yourself the weekend to get in the rhythm of your sleep schedule. The first couple of nights of sleep training are the toughest on your baby and yourself. You’re breaking some well-learned sleep habits.

  2. Try to get 3-4 nights of sleep training under your belt before going to daycare. If you’re able, have your daycare provider come to your house for Monday and Tuesday to allow baby to get accustomed to their new sleeping habits in their home environment.

  3. If your planning on using daycare five days per week, don’t ease your child into daycare by starting with only one or two days per week. Get your little one started right away on the schedule that you intend. They will adjust quicker and easier.

  4. If your daycare can’t accommodate all your usual at-home routines, don’t stress too much. Babies are capable of distinguishing between daycare and home environments. Habits at daycare don’t always transfer over to sleep at home.

  5. Likewise, a different schedule at home from daycare is okay. It’s definitely a bonus if you can make them match, but it’s not essential.

  6. Probably the toughest tip to accomplish – Try to keep your baby awake on the car ride home. Bedtime will be a lot easier if they don’t have a catnap late in the afternoon. If your child does fall asleep, wake them when you get home and push their bedtime back a little to allow for a bit more awake time.

Overall, your daycare provider will appreciate that you’re tackling any sleep issues. They’re your allies on this sleep mission as they also want you and your baby happy and well-rested.

If you have any questions about how to ensure your daycare transition is a success sleep-wise or you need help identifying your child’s sleep props, give us a call. We’d love to chat about your child’s sleep issues and talk about how a sleep coach can help get your family sleeping peacefully.

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