Tips for Successful Daycare Sleep

By Renee Wasserman August 26, 2016
It’s hard to leave your child at daycare when you are at work. And to top it all off, it’s even harder when they won’t sleep well. At the same time, it’s challenging for a daycare provider to balance the different schedules and needs of each of the children in their care. Many daycares have strict regulations that they must follow to keep their licensure, so it is important to ask what they can and cannot do to help with your child’s sleep. Can anything be done to help make sleep at daycare more successful?

If you haven’t yet chosen the right daycare for your child, here are some important questions to ask that may help in your decision-making process.
  1. Is the daycare willing to follow your child’s sleep schedule?
  2. Is there a separate sleep room for the children?
  3. Is the sleep area dark, cool, and away from the noises of the day?
  4. Do they use a white noise machine?
  5. Will they swaddle my baby (before he can roll) or use a sleep sack?
  6. Is the daycare willing to complete a similar sleep routine as you do at home?
  7. Will the daycare follow your feeding schedule?
  8. Does the daycare follow safe sleep practices?
Once you have chosen the best daycare for your child, these ideas can make your little one’s sleep most successful.

- Bring anything from home to daycare that will make sleep feel familiar.
  • Does he sleep with a special lovey? If so, wash the blankie at the end of the week and sleep with it over the weekend before returning to daycare for the week. This way it will have the familiar scent of mom and dad, which can be very comforting at naptime.
  • Use a crib sheet from home.
  • If he uses a lovey, make sure there is one at daycare.
- Provide a white noise machine and ask that daycare use the white noise setting, instead of one of the patterns (i.e. birds, rain, ocean).

- Make the daycare’s job as easy as possible.
  • Be specific and leave detailed instructions: When should your child eat? Does he use a pacifier? Does he need his lovey in the crib with him? What should be done if he wakes early from a nap? Should he be falling asleep by himself (this is ideal) or does he need help?
  • Give them a sleep log to complete each day so you can track how much sleep your baby is getting.
- Be your child’s best advocate. Many daycares will do their best to work closely with parents. It is in everyone’s best interest to have your baby sleep well at daycare.

What can you do if your baby just won’t sleep well at daycare?
  • If your baby is having a hard time sleeping at daycare, the best strategy is to use an early bedtime and get him to sleep for the night before he becomes overtired.
  • Consistent naps on the weekend will also help make up for any sleep he missed out on during the week.
  • Although the early bedtime may interfere with family time, remind yourself that this will not last forever. You will need to weigh out the benefits of keeping your child well rested while making the best decision for your family.
- Focus on quality time with your baby in the morning before work or on the weekends.
- Remember that quality time does not have to be just before bed.
-  Daycare may be able to help by feeding your little one dinner and getting him in pajamas before you pick him up.

Poor sleep at daycare can be so frustrating. If your child is taking some time to figure things out, stay patient and consistent and keep them as well rested as possible.

If your child is in daycare, what tricks do you use to make sure they get the best sleep possible?

Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.