No matter where the baby naps (home, daycare, in-laws, in-home sitter) short naps (30-45 minutes) are a common issue I see with most children. Most of the time babies in daycare take these famous 30-45 minute naps because of the environment: bright and noisy. So while typically we can’t control the brightness of the room or the excitement level of other kids (my baby is a happy screecher so I know all about THAT noise!) we can implement some strategies to help your baby take better daycare naps.
Small, simple, to the point..and the SAME routine you do at home. I’m not talking 30 minutes (like bedtime routine), more like 1-3 minutes to give your baby a “cue” that sleep is coming. My own example is: change diaper, read a book, lay in crib. It doesn’t matter where your child is, or who is doing the routine, they simple know the formula diaper change + book = sleep!
Your baby may not be on the same nap schedule as the other babies, so more than likely you’ll have a baby happy screeching on the floor while yours is trying to catch a few Zzz’s. This can be distracting, but more so, it can wake your baby up after one short sleep cycle…hence the popular 30 minute naps! While these shorts naps are really common in daycare situations, a portable white noise machine placed near your baby can absolutely help. I recommend these options: by Marpac and myBaby.
If you have a newborn, here’s where you’ll want the same swaddle as night time (I love these!), and if you have a baby under 12 months keep the same sleep sack as home. If your child is between 10-12 months old offer a lovie that stays in their daycare backpack. A familiar comfort item to have during naptime only each day.
You are your child’s advocate. Know your child’s optimal awake window to make sure you’re timing the naps correctly, and communicate with your child’s caretaker exactly when they should be in the crib. Remember that time is when they need to be IN the crib, not getting ready to go in the crib. Overtiredness is a nap enemy, yall!
Have questions about naps? They are definitely a totally different piece than night sleep, so if you're sitting there thinking "my child will never nap more than an hour"...let's talk. It's time to change that!
Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant