In an environment where you have no control, can you keep sleep on track while your little one attends day care? Yes and sometimes no!
In my experience for babies and toddlers who nap and sleep well at home, they usually adjust and sleep reasonably well at day care. No doubt there are the off days at day care where your little one takes an inadequate nap (this is expected). What we want overall is for our little ones to sleep pretty good when they are not at home. Having too many off days with sleep, week in and week out, can have an effect on sleep and behaviours at home. It’s important to try and work with your day care to get your little one sleeping as best as they can.
Below are my tips for working through day care sleep challenges:
DON’T BE SCARED TO TELL YOUR DAY CARE PROVIDER WHEN YOUR LITTLE ONE IS DUE TO GO TO SLEEP
When my boys were in the baby room at day care I used to provide the carers with their morning wake up time and when their nap 1 was due (this was based on their age appropriate awake length). Yes, I was that crazy mum who dictated their nap schedules when I wasn’t around but in the end day care actually loved me for it. It took the guesswork away from the carers because rather than guessing when to put the boys down they had the instructions all ready to go for them. Also my boys were as happy as Larry at day care – they weren’t cranky from being overtired, they napped well and they played beautifully which is really a carers dream. So I repeat don’t be afraid to talk to your carer about your child’s sleep needs, they will do the best they can to make this work for you and your child (within reason).
PROVIDE ALL COMFORTING ITEMS
If your little one sleeps with a sleeping bag, dummy and/or comforter/teddy at home, take all of this with you each day to day care. You want to make the environment as similar to home as you possibly can.
BE SURE YOUR CARER UNDERSTANDS HOW YOUR LITTLE ONE USUALLY FALLS ASLEEP
My boys always self-soothed from a young age but I remember one day a relief worker tried to rock Jude to sleep at day care and he actually didn’t end up falling asleep because he was so stimulated by what she was trying to do. It’s important your educators know how your little one is used to falling asleep. If they try something new that your little one isn’t used to, there is a good chance the settle will be a fail. It is easier for day care if your little one knows how to to self-soothe before they begin but this isn’t always something that is achieved. The best thing to do is work with your educator about this and come up with a settling plan together.
When my boys were baby’s I used to have a freezer full of home cooked meals. This meant I could have meals thawing in the fridge during the day and then warm them up for dinner as soon as we got home from day care. There were a couple of reasons I loved this.
Because it meant I got to spend quality time with them before getting them ready for bed
It meant that they had a healthy dinner ready to go and I wouldn’t have the stress of trying to cook something if I needed to get them off to sleep early.
It was a life saver and absolutely a win for everyone.
LAVISH WITH LOVE WHEN YOU GET HOME
Your little one would have missed you just as much as you would have missed them. Make home time as stress free as possible. Easy dinners or already prepared dinners work great. Don’t worry about the chores you can get to these once you get your little one off to sleep. The more quality time they have with you once they are home the easier bedtime usually is. Emotional well-being needs being met is also really important for quality night sleep.
Being a working parent is not easy. It can be hard to adjust to having someone else care for your child. It can be hard to feel comforted that your little one is happy and settled throughout the whole day without you. In my experience day care educators are wonderful and they really do try and cater for everyone’s unique needs as best as they can. I don’t know how they do this but they do and it’s pretty amazing. The more information that you provide to your carers the easier it is for them to meet your child’s needs.
I hope the above helps.