How To Get Your Baby to Nap at Daycare

January 22, 2021

One of the most common questions parents have before sending their infant to daycare is “How is my baby going to nap at daycare?” This is especially true for parents that have finally established a routine and nap schedule for their infant. A daycare is a whole new environment for infants and parents are rightfully worried that it might ruin the work they’ve put into establishing a solid nap routine for their child. Xan Coffman from MyBaby Sleepology is here to ease those worries with a few tips to help your baby have solid naps at daycare and maintain the routine you have in place at home.

Improve the Environment at Daycare

Often daycares are willing to adjust certain things to help provide an environment for babies to nap at daycare as well as they do at home. Here are few topics that you should discuss with your daycare ahead of time:

  • Noise: Do they use a sound machine during nap times? If not, are they willing to attach a portable sound machine to your child’s crib (to replicate a similar environment as home and drown out the surrounding noises)?
  • Movement: Ask them to NOT rock your baby/toddler to sleep or allow him to fall asleep in a swing
  • Light: How bright is the nap room? See if your little one’s crib/cot can be moved to a back corner where it might be darker and quieter.
  • Schedule: Do they offer naps “on demand” or on a set schedule?  If they can be flexible/on-demand, that would be ideal!
  • Transitions: When do they transition toddlers to 1 nap? For many daycares it is at 12 months, which is pretty early. The earliest toddlers typically transition is 14 months, and on average it is 17 months.
  • Comfort Items: Ask if you can send a breathable lovey (if 12 months +) or sleep sack to comfort your child. Make sure you have duplicates in case it gets lost or dirty while at daycare!
  • Cribs: Request that they put your little one in the crib for naps only, not for any playtime.
Toddler Sleeping at Daycare

Daycare Naps’ Impact on your Home Sleep Schedule

If naps at daycare are short it will not impact night sleep as long as you can adjust bedtime earlier when naps do not meet their goal (1 hour minimum when on a 2-3 nap schedule and 90 minutes minimum if on 1 nap). For the first several weeks, be prepared for a quick pick-up and head straight home for dinner and early bedtime. This will be temporary until your baby is sleeping better at daycare. Remember babies are smart!  They understand that different rules apply at home vs. daycare.  So when your little one is home on weekends, be sure to apply the “crib hour” rule to naps one and two if your baby still takes 2-3 naps and the “90 minute rule” if your baby is on a one nap schedule.

“What about the Drive Home from Daycare? My Baby Always Falls Asleep!”

Do what you can to keep your baby/toddler awake on the ride home from daycare (try opening a window, play music or give them a toy).  If he or she falls asleep, don’t stress!  While it isn’t ideal, simply bump bedtime out just a smidge (15/20 minutes) if he or she caught a quick cat nap on the ride home.

Sleep training in two different environments may take a little longer for things to come together, but as long as you are consistent at home and daycare adjusts a few things, it will work and eventually your child will be on his way to better naps and night sleep! If you have further questions you can click here to schedule a complimentary 15 minute sleep consultation with MyBaby Sleepology.

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