Daycare & Sleep

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

Daycare can be a stressful time for parents. You want to make the right choice when it comes to your child, of course! Whether you are currently searching for a daycare that respects your sleep wishes or currently have your child enrolled with a childcare facility, this article is for you!

Daycare Search:

If you are currently in the search for a daycare, you may be feeling the pressure of finding one who respects your sleep wishes for your little one. I recommend if possible, to search for the in-home style daycares as they typically respect parents’ schedules much more often than the larger style daycares.

Before visiting the daycares, it is important to compile a list of questions and concerns you may have. Ask your potential daycares their views on schedules, assisting to sleep, the sleep environment and if they are open to suggestions. If the daycare doesn’t fit your child’s sleep needs, it is absolutely ok to continue the search. Your child’s sleep habits at daycare are just as important as they are at home!

Of course, you know your child best and all children are quite different. While some children may be able to take a fine nap in a room full of other children, some children may need their own sleep space. It is important to base your questions on your child’s personal needs.

Maintaining sleep while at daycare;

If you are making the transition or your child is already there, the need for healthy sleep habits is still just as important. Be sure to express that children under the age of 18 months should be sleeping in a playpen style crib and not a wide-open mat. This is because children of this age do not understand the invisible boundaries that a mat gives them.

Ask your child’s daycare if you can provide the correct white noise machine. Many daycares simply aren’t informed about the importance of white noise and use lullabies because that’s what they’ve been trained to do.

If your child needs to take a different number of naps while at daycare due to the age group they fit in with, do not stress. While this is not ideal, sometimes it is completely unavoidable. While your child is home with you, keep them on their appropriate nap schedule, daycare can continue their own schedule as long as there are no issues. If you start to find issues while at home, you may need to make the transition to follow daycare’s schedule.

Many children are able to handle not taking as many naps in a daycare setting because it is social and stimulating. Home life is much calmer for children, which helps them recognize their tiredness.

If your child does not sleep well at daycare, it is acceptable to provide your child with a nap once home, as long as that nap is ending at a time that doesn't impact your child's nighttime sleep.

3 Nap Schedule; All sleep should end by 5:00pm

2 Nap Schedule; All sleep should end by 4:00pm

1 Nap Schedule; All sleep should end by 3:00pm

Keep in mind:

Has your family made the choice to follow independent sleep? (not assisting to sleep). If so, it is very important to express this to your daycare and ensure that those wishes are clearly understood. If your child is being assisted to sleep at daycare, they will quickly expect the same to happen at bedtime.

Sleep training with daycare;

If your child attends fulltime daycare and you would like to sleep train, it is absolutely possible. The best route to take with this approach is to plan for a time when you can be home with your child for 48-72 hours minimum. This will help your child strengthen the skill of independent sleep prior to their return to daycare. If parents are not able to stay home for that amount of time, I suggest trying to find an in-home sitter for those days that can be trusted to follow your sleep training wishes.

Many times, I have parents complain that daycare won’t listen to their wishes regarding sleep. My first recommendation is to always educate. Sometimes people simply aren’t educated on why certain things work better than others. Compile your own research, speak to a Sleep Consultant or Doctor for recommendations and take those to your childcare operator.

You are trusting these people to care for your child, both their mental well-being and physical well-being, if your wishes are not being met (as long as they are reasonable) it is not unacceptable to look for another childcare.


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