How To Lengthen Daycare Naps That Are Too Short

All Ages

Jun 23, 2020

If you and your baby have been so frustrated and exhausted by short naps at daycare, at home, your little one naps for a good hour, hour and a half, two hours, and at daycare, it’s 20 minutes. What do you do? In today’s video, I’m going to give you some strategies that we can use at daycare to hopefully help lengthen these daycare naps.

Today is the epitome of everyone’s daycare woes, short naps.

I am going to walk you through some strategies that we can communicate with to our teachers and even kind of help you ease your mind about these frustrating short naps at daycare, which, let’s just put it out there, it’s going to happen.

Why Short Naps Are A Thing

Why? Let’s dig into, first of all, why in the world should we expect short naps at daycare? Well, it’s bright, it’s loud, and there’s generally no form of any time of nap environment that you’ve created at home here at daycare.

It begs the question: Why would we be so concerned with our nap environment at home if, at daycare, it’s completely different?

I get this question a lot. And the answer is, we need to do anything and everything to preserve your baby’s naps when they are at home.

We’re going to create the best environment when we can. We’ll use all the things to make sure it’s right!

When they go daycare, it’s different. Your baby is adaptable. They will learn to sleep at daycare, and they will learn to come back home and nap at home.

It generally takes about a month for a child to get used to this new environment at daycare, but once they are napping well they probably will have much shorter naps than they have at home.

Nothing Will Work If…

Now, none of these strategies that I’m about to share will make sense or work if your child doesn’t know independent sleep habits.

If they rely on rocking, pacifiers, bottles, nursing to feed to sleep, and then depend on something exterior besides themselves to put themselves to sleep, then none of these strategies are going work.

What I’m gonna talk through today is the foundation of my Sleep E-Coaching™ programs: independent sleep for your baby (4 months+).

How Daycare Teachers Can Help Naps


So now that you maybe have your feet wet at daycare or your child’s been there for a while and you’ve maybe recently done a sleep training program here’s what we need to ask the teachers.

I want you to ask them if they can they do a naptime routine for your child.

A naptime routine is a great way to just cue your baby that it’s time to go to sleep. Sometimes a nap routine looks like change the diapers, zip up the sleep sack, say night night.

There you go, naptime routine done!

I want you to make sure that your naptime routine that you do at home, ask them if they can just copy and paste it and do it at daycare. A naptime routine is not 30 minutes, so they probably could take two to five minutes to just cue your baby up for a nap.

So always ask them.

This kind of relates to that first video, right, when I set you up with all those things to ask to make sure we can have a good setup!

What we’re aiming for is that the child will be cued, “Oh yes, I recognize this. This is the same cues I get at home. It’s time to go to sleep here just like it is at home.”

So they go get into their crib and they put themselves to sleep within five or 10 minutes.


Once the child falls asleep for nap it’s common that the baby wake up 15, 20, 30 minutes later.

The baby is actually just getting one sleep cycle, and may want more!

It would be nice if they get a few more sleep cycles in so be sure to tell the teachers:  “If my baby wakes after a short nap, can you not rush right over?”

If the teacher can give just a few minutes before going over, you may find they fall back asleep! Usually if the baby’s crying, they’re going to go ahead and get them up. I understand that! It’s a room full of babies. If we can minimize the crying, the better, right?

I’m just wondering if we can just wait a few minutes.

If maybe your baby wakes up, sits up, looks around the room, sees other kids playing, and they’re like, “Oh, yup, I’m done here. “I’m ready to go play with my friends.” Okay, let’s get them up and go ahead and move on with our day.

But sometimes the baby may just wake up, look around, decide, “All right, I wanna go back to sleep,” and then go back. So I would ask them to do the naptime routine. Once the baby goes to sleep, should they wake up early, can you just wait a few minutes before you go get them?

That can be helpful too!

See if the baby wants to decide to go back to sleep or not. If they do decide to go back to sleep, great! We will add this extra sleep inside of our nap time.


It may seems like something we don’t have to double check, but let’s make sure that your daycare provider is giving you accurate reads on how long the baby is sleeping.

Sometimes this is maybe more towards the older ages, but I definitely have seen situations where a daycare teacher might write two hours where it was really like an hour and a half or it was just two hours for the room, but your child only napped for 45 minutes.

It’s important to gauge how long your child is sleeping so we can plan the rest of the afternoon or evening.

Again, I am so thankful we have amazing daycare teachers. This is not a knock on that at all. I would just ask, especially if you’re sleep training during this time, to make sure we get an accurate reading on how long your child is actually napping at daycare.

Maybe you are at a daycare provider where they have cameras where you can watch and things like that, which is pretty cool! Don’t take time off of your work to track and be obsessed with your baby’s sleep. That’s why we have loving daycare teachers, but it is just nice to know an accurate reading of how much sleep they had so we can possibly move into an early bedtime, which is a video coming up this week.


Now, short naps at daycare, they are going to happen. We can’t completely erase them from ever occurring because it’s bright and loud.

They’re going to probably just sleep one sleep cycle, wake up, and be done with it.

But if your daycare teacher can implement a naptime routine, if they can allow the child to fall asleep independently just like you’ve worked on at home, if they can just hold off and not rush over to pick up your child and if they can accurately write down how much sleep your child is getting, this will help so much.

It can help cue your child that there’s no immediate gratification so I’m gonna go back to sleep now, and it can help you understand at the end of the day, wow, look at this day of only 20-minute naps.

We need to go ahead and move into an early bedtime. So this is just going to be such great information and great strategies that connect your home life to the daycare life, which is really wonderful because all of these should work in sync together. And if we can see that success, it will mean so much to you and your family.

Now, get ready, tomorrow’s video, I’m going to equip you with what’s next!

If they’ve only had a day full of 20 or 30-minute naps, what do we do for bedtime? It’s too long, it’s too much of a stretch, and there’s no way I can get my kid to bed at 5:30. Relax. I’ll get you there.

We’ll cover it in tomorrow’s video. Sweet dreams. See you tomorrow!

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