How to make sure your child is getting enough sleep at daycare
This is part one in a three-part series about sleep needs and daycare.
According to ChildCare Aware of America, over 2.5 million working mothers have an infant under a year old, meaning those families need some type of childcare while mom transitions back to work. Most parents have a check list a mile long when thinking about child care for their little ones: safety, cleanliness, and curriculum to name a few. What most parents haven’t considered during this transition is their child’s sleep needs and how that relates to their daycare environment.
Making sure your child is on a healthy, age appropriate sleep schedule can help prevent the headaches of dealing with an overtired baby at nap and bed times! Aside from sleep associations, the most common challenge the families I work with face is an overtired child. An overtired child can have a tough time falling asleep, and staying asleep.
Because much of a child’s daily and weekly sleep takes place at daycare, I will share with you my daycare sleep schedule and environment check list! Finding a daycare that focuses on the following can make your weekend nap and bedtime much easier.
ABC’s of Safe Sleep: – Make sure your daycare is placing baby Alone, on their Back and in a Crib for all sleeping. Baby should not sleep in car seat, swing, or rock’n’play. All sleep should take place in a crib or pack’n’play, as this is the is the safest way to have baby sleep. For more information on what the AAP recommends for safe sleep visit their website.
Parent’s dictate sleep schedule: – The sleep needs of babies vary based on age. For example, a baby who is 3.5 months needs 4 naps a day, while a baby who is 9 months needs 2 naps a day. Additionally, the amount of time a baby can stay awake varies based on the baby’s age. A 3.5-month-old should be awake roughly 1 hr. and 30 minutes in between naps, while a 6-month-old should be awake no more than 2 hrs. and 30 minutes.
Parents should select a daycare facility that respects the varying needs of baby’s sleep. Picking a daycare that has the babies all sleep at the same time will result in an overtired baby, makings weekend bedtime and naptime a challenge for parents.
TIP: If your baby has a dreadful day of naps at daycare, an earlier bedtime is much more restorative for baby than a late afternoon catnap when the family gets home. Focus on having family time in the morning when baby is well-rested, instead of in the evening.
Parent’s decide how baby is put to sleep: – Who doesn’t love to cuddle a baby and rock a baby to sleep? However, if your family has put in the time and energy to make sure baby is falling asleep independently, you want to find a daycare that respects your request to follow the same process. Consistency is the most important thing for infant sleep. A baby learns by repetition, and practice makes perfect! Having a consistent nap time routine at both home and daycare will make those nap and bedtime battles that take place at home less frequent because baby knows what is expected of them.
If your baby is on a healthy, consistent daily sleep schedule, finding a daycare who shares those values will make your time with your baby much more enjoyable.
If your family is struggling to get on a healthy, consistent sleep schedule, it is not too late! I have experience helping families whose little ones are transitioning to daycare for the first time.
Sending your child to daycare doesn’t have to mean the destruction of healthy sleep!