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Five Tips to Survive Daycare Naps: Help for Working Parents

As a working mom, I understand the need to have your baby get enough sleep at daycare. Here are some ways you can work with your daycare to get your baby on a good sleep routine.

My daughter started daycare at 3.5 months. Some days I would pick her up after 9 hours and she would have slept only 30 minutes. She was severely overtired.

I didn’t know how to manage this. Once I got on track with a schedule from my sleep consultant, I realized I needed to have my daycare partner with me. For some, partnering with daycare will be much easier than you expect, for others… not so much.

Below you will find a few of my recommendations that have worked for me in my personal experience.

1. Speak to your child’s teacher or the daycare director about your child’s sleep needs.

Remember, you are paying them to care for your child—it’s okay to set some expectations! I was able to bring baby A’s schedule to daycare and let them know when she should be napping. This tends to be easier when a baby is on the younger side in an infant classroom and schedules tend to be met “on demand.” 
 
Additionally, speak to your child’s teacher or the daycare director about the sleep environment. Many daycare centers have one room for play and sleep. This can be challenging for babies who tend to be distracted easily. Some daycare centers will allow you to bring in your own white noise machine to help. If you use a sleep sack at home, see if your daycare will allow you to bring in a sleep sack for daycare. 

2. Work on naps at home.

The more you can work on naps at home, the better. When I started training my baby to follow a nap schedule,  I was working Tuesday through Thursday. I decided to start on a Friday to help because  I  would have at least four days to work on naps at home before baby A when to daycare again. Surprisingly, those four days really did help get her on track. 

3. What do I do if my baby is on the younger side but I have no choice about moving to one nap?

This is always stressful to parents, and rightfully so. If you can’t find a daycare that will work with your child’s schedule until they are ready for one nap naturally, do your best to keep your child well rested at home. This may mean an early (or super early) bedtime. It also may mean offering two naps on days when your child is home with you.  And remember—it’s temporary! 

4. Do your research.

This should probably be my first recommendation. Typically I hear from people after their child is already well established at a daycare. If you’re reading this before you’ve chosen a daycare or you’re looking for a new daycare, be sure to do your research.

Some daycare centers offer separate napping rooms that are dark, cool, and quiet. They are few and far between, but they DO exist! You may also consider a home daycare that offers something similar. 
 
If you’re concerned about your child moving to one nap too quickly, look for a daycare that provides a transition room for older infants/young toddlers. Sometimes this room is called an “infant 2” room. These rooms can be a nice way for your little ones to be with peers at their own developmental stage, and continue to get the rest they need.

5. Finally, go easy on yourself.

It’s so easy to stress all day about how much sleep your child is getting at daycare. Remember, if you’ve done the best you can, you’re doing great. If you get to daycare and discover that your child hasn’t slept well try to get them to bed earlier. And cut yourself some slack. Your baby will be okay, and so will you! Pouring a glass of wine and/or cracking open a pint of Ben & Jerry’s helps, too!

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