Lots of children begin attending childcare in their first few years of life and this means someone other than you or family members will be putting your little one down for daytime sleeps.
The thought of someone else in charge of naptime can feel uncomfortable, so how do you set you and your little one up for sleep success at childcare? This blog looks at my top tips for success to support your baby or toddler’s sleep routines whilst in childcare.
Yes, sleep time at childcare is a whole different ball game to sleep time at home, especially with carers expected to:
- Monitor several children
- Adhere to regulatory standards (such as rooms not being pitch black for sleeping)
- Remember individual children’s sleep routines
We can all agree that safety procedures should and will absolutely continue to come first in childcare centres and we know we can’t change how many children carers have in their care so the best approach for overall sleep success comes down to building trust and choosing a positive and understanding approach.
As you read through the tips in this blog keep in mind two important details. Firstly, attending childcare won’t undo all your hard work and secondly, day and night sleep are governed by two different parts of the brain 🙂 If you can remember these two things, you’ll find yourself in a good place to action the below tips.
Baby and Toddler Childcare Sleep Tips –
1. Communication- Communicating with your little one’s carers about important things such as their temperament, their preferred nap routine, settling approach and items you’ll be packing to create a sense of security for your little one is the first and best ways to set the foundation for sleep success.
2. Bring Something From Home. Whilst we appreciate that we can’t replicate the home environment – (hello multiple children sleeping in the same room) we can try to recreate some familiarity – Think along the lines of bringing their sleeping bag, comforter, or dummy. It also doesn’t hurt to ask if the centre already uses or allows the use of portable white noise machines.
3. Preparation – This is a two-pronged approach. We can help manage our own expectations by preparing mentally and anticipating that our little ones may not sleep well at childcare (especially initially) as they settle into their new surroundings and build rapport with their primary carers.
Secondly, we can plan ahead to make things easier at home in the evening. You could try ensuring dinner is ready to go when you get home (previous night’s leftovers for the parenting win), or if you finish work particularly late, ask if you can provide childcare with your little one’s dinner to heat and serve? This will allow you more quality time together when you get home so you can fill up yours and your little one’s emotional cup after a busy day before rushing off to bed.
4. Earlier Bedtimes – A common tactic to stay on top of lost sleep, especially when naps are out of our control is to bring bedtime forward. Try to utilise a 15-30 minutes earlier bedtime depending on when their last nap finished and their total overall day sleep.
Top tip – Earlier bedtimes don’t equal earlier rising, this is more common in babies and toddlers who are overtired.
5. Accept That Different Is Okay- Be comforted by the fact that your childcare worker has likely put hundreds (if not thousands) of babies to sleep over the span of their career and know that they will be able to get your little one to sleep, even if it is with different settling techniques than they would normally have at home.
The Truth Is– Little one’s are adaptable and resilient to change and often have different expectations of different carers. This means that as long as you and your family are on the same page with settling at home, then what happens at childcare shouldn’t negatively impact on solid sleep foundations.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with what is not in your control but reminding yourself that your baby will have an amazing day and you’ll have the opportunity to support them at the other end of the day is the best way to keep a positive outlook during the childcare years.
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