What do I do when Sleep Training and my child is in Daycare?
If you are a working mom like many, you are usually back at work within 6 weeks, if you are lucky, you will get a good 3 months. Either way, it’s never a good feeling when you now must put your little, precious, and amazing baby in someone else’s hands. The transition can be extremely difficult. You are still trying to get settled with your new normal and you have an entire human being that you are now responsible for.
When it comes to sleep training and daycare, this can become a touch, especially for first time moms. I will admit my son had healthy sleep habits before he started daycare and the transition was still touching for me emotionally. However, I still wanted to make sure he was at least still on his routine while at daycare, because I knew what the impacts would be for my husband and I during the night. To be honest, starting over was not going to be an option for us. I wanted to make sure, the hard work and effort that my family took to get to where we were with my son and his sleep habits was something that was going to remain. I wanted to make sure all my questions and concerns were addressed when it came to his sleep and of course other things as well. We will walk through some things to ask your daycare provider prior to making your final decision on which one you would like to proceed forward with. Check the following tips on sleep training and daycare.
Pick Your Provider
Mental note for us all, the sleep-centered things we will discuss today, are not intended to be deal-breakers, these are just important things for you to consider.
Ask about their approach on naps!
Do they put kids down at a specific time?
Do they allow kids individual nap times or is everyone together for a specific duration?
Ask about the location of where they will be sleeping!·
Is the room fully lit with several other kids?
Are they in a semi-private space where they keep things dark?
Ask about specific accommodations for your child.
If utilized at home, as if you can you bring your own white noise machine? (It can be very helpful to provide the same white noise machine that your little one is accustomed to at home.)
Will they allow your child to cry for a few minutes?
Will they hold off on offering sleep props if you ask them to?
Communicating with your Child's Caregiver
Now that you have done some research, asked some questions and selected your daycare provider it is now time to let them know your expectations.
Be sure to let them know how long you are comfortable with your baby crying. Most care providers will default to a no-crying approach unless instructed otherwise.
Ask them to avoid sleep props. Make sure you are specific about what you consider a sleep prop.
Ask them to refrain from rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, using a pacifier or whatever you have established as methods to get your little one to sleep that you think they may become dependent on.
Note to yourself as well, be mindful and respectful of the daycare providers limitations. They look after many kids at once and are often required to follow safety rules, so please do not be surprised if they are not able to accommodate every request you have. So, this could mean no dark rooms and white noise machines.
With all that being said, it is important to maintain open communication. Let them know you have been working on your child’s sleep issues and where you are in the process. They likely want the same goal you have, which is the desire to have your little one sleeping, almost as much as you do. A baby with healthy sleep habits that will go down for naps without a lot of fuss is a daycare provider’s dream come true.
A Few Random Tips
Here are a few tips that will likely come in handy, regardless of your baby’ sleep situation.
If you haven’t started sleep training yet, start on Friday night, or whichever day is farthest away from the next day they are in daycare. The first couple of nights are usually the toughest and your baby will likely be off and fussy for the first 48 hours.
It is best to get at least 3-4 consecutive nights in before going to daycare. If you have someone else around that can help, ask them to help you out for a day or two, preferably on a Monday and Tuesday. Therefore, your little one will have had a good amount of time to get accumulated to their new sleeping arrangements.
Once you are ready to start sending your little one to daycare, start off with the same schedule you are planning to end with. For example, if they will be attending every weekday, then send them every weekday. Avoid trying to “ease” them in. They will adjust quicker and easier by starting the way you plan to finish.
Babies are usually capable of distinguishing between different environments. Habits they learn at daycare won’t necessarily transfer over to sleep in the home, so if your daycare provider allows them a pacifier or rocks to sleep, don’t worry too much about it. Babies should still be able to understand that it’s not the same when they’re at home.
Do not harp too much if the schedules at daycare are not exactly like those at home. It is not the end of the world; however, it would be a GREAT bonus.
Try to keep your little one awake during the ride home. It is best to put them in bed early instead of offering a catnap after 4:00pm. If they do fall asleep on the way home, wake them up once you get home and allow them more wake time before going to bed for the night.
All in all, there is no reason why daycare and sleep training cannot coexist. Be mindful that your daycare providers are allies who would love for your baby to have healthy and independent sleep habits. Maintain open lines of dialog, be patient, respectful and accept that they may not be able to tailor things to each individual child as much as they would like. Main think for you to do in addition to open lines of communication for your little one is to keep up with your bedtime routine and schedule as closely as possible, avoid sleep props and things will work out.
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