Transitioning to Naps at Daycare: Expert Tips
You were relieved to have mastered the baby's nap routine this summer, but now it's time to start daycare! We spoke to some sleep experts about how to best transition your little one from naps at home to naps at daycare (or caretaker's house).
Larissa O'Loughlin, RN
Bring a portable sound machine* to your daycare provider. Ask that they place it by your baby's crib during their naps. Since many daycares have the cribs in the same open space as the play areas, a sound machine will drown out the noise of other kiddos and make napping for your little one easier!
Pediatrician, Family Wellness & Fitness Expert
Sleep is so important for promoting overall good health and growth. Sleep also promotes better learning and improves memory. You need enough sleep and good sleep to effectively learn. Sleep is so important to ensure your children are awake, alert and recharged the next day to learn and develop on all levels emotionally, physically and cognitively.
A lack of sleep causes children to have decreased attention span and they can be also more distracted and impulsive. A well rested child will be happier and more positive. Kids that don’t sleep enough may be cranky, moody and have tantrums. If your child is hyperactive, they may actually be overtired and not getting enough sleep.
The amount of hours of sleep per night a child needs decreases as they get older. Infants 4-12 months of age sleep 12 to 16 hours including naps. For toddlers age 1-2 years of age, sleep up to 14 hours including naps.
The amount of hours slowly decreases by 1-2 hours as they reach preschool, elementary and teenage years.
Babies in the first year will typically have 3 naps and transition to 2 naps by around 12 months. In the second year around 15-18 months, toddlers transition typically from 2 naps to 1. The age at which naps stop varies depending on your child and may be anywhere from 2-4 years even 5 years of age. The total number hours of sleep your child is getting overall for their age is what is important.
It is important to have a calming bedtime routine and stick with it and the same goes for naps as well. A child up and playing is less likely to fall asleep. Setting the mood for your child’s bedtime and naps is important. Books, music, dimmed lights, blackout shades if possible during the summer hours with increased daylight hours can help or whatever routine works for you and your child. Even having your child going to bed 15-20 minutes earlier can help if your child doesn’t appear to be getting enough sleep.
Pediatric sleep consultant and founder of Bonne Nuit Baby
Do your best to work with your daycare provider to mimic home sleep conditions and sleep schedules. However, there's only so much you can do. If daycare sleep remains a challenge, continue to follow the ideal nap schedule according to your baby’s age when they are at home. Also compensate with an early bedtime on daycare days and weekends.
Founder of Kelly Murray Sleep Consulting
Have realistic expectations. Your child is likely not going to sleep as well at daycare as they do at home. There is a lot more stimulation at daycare with all of their baby friends being around. They tend to experience FOMO and then they don't want to sleep. Also, the environment is not as conducive to sleep. Seldom are daycares able to achieve complete darkness or silence, both of which are required for good quality naps. All that said, they will likely still nap, just not as well and that is OK. They can make it up at night time.
If your child isn't sleeping as well at daycare, I would recommend allowing them to have a cat nap ( about 30 minutes) on the way home in the car or stroller. That way, you don't have to put them to bed early. If they won't nap on the way home, then put them to bed at least 30 minutes earlier than usual. This will prevent them from being overtired which can lead to night waking or early morning wake-ups.
Communication is key. Provide your daycare with a nap plan that details when your child sleeps and how they fall asleep. That way, they can try to replicate what you do at home. It is also important to be understanding that your daycare provider may not be able to do things actually as you do them at home. They still have multiple children to care for during. nap time. Be rest assured that they will try their best, they want your baby to sleep well as much as you do!
*Whilst the Angelcare Sensor Pad can detect movement it cannot differentiate between baby’s, yours or another form of movement in or attached to their crib and may not alarm if required. Therefore, when monitoring baby’s movements you should not use a crib mobile, any toy that plays music, emits white noise etc in or attached to the crib, a fan directed at/near the crib – these all emit a form of movement, albeit very small on the surface of the mattress or the crib itself.