Is your child about to start daycare? Are you feeling anxious about how they will now nap while they’re in this new environment? Or maybe you are struggling because your baby won’t nap at all at daycare? Are you wondering how much communication you should be relaying to your child’s teacher about their nap schedule?
Maybe you’re afraid of being THAT mom when it comes to giving directions and being in control. I am here today to help give you clear guidance on starting daycare.
Welcome to Daycare Week! This is video one, all about getting started at daycare. I want to make sure that whether you are starting daycare, you’re currently in a daycare situation, or maybe you’re at the tail end of the daycare and your child doesn’t need to nap, we’re going cover everything this week so stay tuned and subscribe so you don’t miss a single video here on Daycare Week.
In this first video, I want to walk you through the why’s and the how behind the importance of being confident in starting daycare.
The number one thing that you need to know to walk into your child’s daycare with confidence is that you are the advocate. I am not in the habit of suggesting what type of daycare to look for as this is a personal decision. But, I am going to share questions that you should ask the provider in an effort to create the best sleep possible.
So whenever your child starts daycare, however old they are, I need you to know that you are your child’s advocate—you are their number one provider.
You are the number one person who knows everything about your child.
So often I’ve found that my clients and Little Z’s families believe that because the daycare takes care of all of these children, they automatically know everything about sleep. Often, that’s not the case!
So from the sleep perspective, you are your child’s advocate.
So what does that mean? I’m going to give you four questions that you need to be asking the daycare whenever you begin.
Now, in the middle of this filming we are in a situation where people are returning back to work after COVID but they aren’t able to go to the classroom to have a conversation with the teacher.
Instead, they are bringing their child to the door and then the child is escorted to the room and the parent never gets to enter the building. Or, maybe they have to stop at the front where the office is.
So some of these questions you may be thinking, (sigh) “I can’t do that”. Yes, you can! Even in a situation where we’re arriving back to work, I want you to set up a phone call or email with the nursery director.
You are the advocate. When it comes to starting daycare, there are four questions that I want you to ask your child’s teacher.
The first question is, “What kind of sleep environment will my child have?”
Even if you already know this, just ask!
It’s always worth asking again so that we can start to poke holes in the environment that they’re offering.
You could always ask, “Hey, I see a crib over there in the corner that looks a little bit more in the dark, could my child sleep there? My child sleeps best when it’s dark and that looks like it might be a little bit darker over there, could we try that?”
You really can get that picky and ask!
You could ask, “Is there a child already sleeping there? Could my child be there?”
A few years ago, I had a client who noticed that one of the light bulbs in the classroom was out, and there was a crib under it. She got her child to sleep there and it worked. It was really funny that even that small of a change helped the baby’s nap a little bit better.
Do not be afraid to ask about finding a new solution to your child’s napping environment.
My favorite in-home gear is the best way to ensure a good nap.
In summary, my first overall question is to just dig deep into the sleep environment and explore different possibilities around the classroom.
If they say no, that’s okay, you asked and tried. Just asking is being your child’s advocate.
The second question is to ask about what type of sleep props you can provide for your child to nap better. (What is a sleep prop? I’ve got a separate post about that).
Now you guys know I love me a good sleep prop like white noise, sleep sacks, and dark rooms.
I’m not talking about pacifiers, in fact, at four months old, my programs teach no pacifiers anymore, so I advocate for even bringing a sign to put on your child’s crib that says, “Do not give my child a pacifier!”
When I’m talking about props, I want you to ask them, “Can I bring a white noise machine?”
Can we set up a white noise right next to the crib? Sometimes they’ll say yes, sometimes they’ll say no.
You might be the only one who’s ever asked but good on you because you’re advocating for what your child needs.
Also, ask them if you can use a sleep sack.
Recently, one of the members of our Sleep Society said that her daycare provider would not allow the Zipadee-Zip because it covered the hands, but she is allowed a traditional sleep sack. Because this child liked to chew on the fabric on the hands of the Zipadee-Zip, we got creative and packed the Bitta Kidda sleep sack that has built-in lovies.
If your daycare provider says, “No, they can’t have this”, well what else could we do?
Now if they come back and say, “We don’t allow anything inside the crib”, then that’s fine, it’s completely okay.
It doesn’t mean you have to rip away things at home, it just means that at daycare they won’t have those items, and it’s all right.
The third question I need you to ask is, “What is this room’s napping schedule? Is there a schedule for naps provided?”
If yes, I need you to consider that in light of what your child is currently doing.
If the answer is no, then I need you to get really hard on them and say “Great, here’s my schedule”, and bring them a paper schedule.
Let them know that this is the actual schedule.
Inside the Sleep Society I actually provide daycare print-off schedules for families because I want them to continue the sleep success even away from home.
Yes, things will be a little different at daycare but we can be the advocate for, “Here’s my child’s schedule, please follow it”.
And knowing your child’s schedule is going to be super critical to provide to the daycare.
I cannot tell you how many times a family has reached out and said, “Hey, Becca, this is so funny, but the daycare asked if they could use my schedule for all the babies”. And I said, “Sure!” I love that!
And that absolutely goes in line with the fact that sometimes we assume that because these daycare teachers have experience with these babies and they love these babies, that they know the sleep schedule, but often they don’t.
I want you to be that person that comes with a schedule, laminated, and says, “Please follow this!”
Be on top of your child’s schedule and don’t be afraid to ask to follow it.
Now the fourth question that I need you to ask is about their flexibility when it comes to your older child or your baby who is maybe not on that same nap schedule and nap rhythm.
Here’s what I mean, I want you to ask them if there is an opportunity for your child to go to the next room early.
Or is there an opportunity for your child to go to another room?
Here are some concrete examples:
I have worked with families at the four and five-month mark, and the daycare turns the lights off twice a day for a nap.
The problem is, a four and a five-month-old is having four or three naps, not just two naps. And while turning the lights off is a great idea because it will usually help the child nap a little bit better, there might be times where they’re turning the lights off before the child’s nap time.
So ask them, “What happens when that’s not my child’s nap time and you turn the lights off?” Are they playing in the room in another area or do they go to a different room?”
Ask, just ask. If you’ve taken one thing away from this video, it’s becoming your child’s advocate and asking the hard questions, ask any questions. Just ask them.
Especially when I see children above three years old in daycare and they’re maybe starting daycare for the first time and they don’t need to be napping but they’re forced to nap and lay down on a cot. Ask them if there’s an opportunity for them to go to another room.
This even goes for the babies who are maybe learning a new skill and they’re not allowed to move up to the next classroom until they’ve mastered this skill. It could be a numbers thing. They could want the child to stay there until they’re ready to move up, but just ask.
It never ever hurts. And I really truly believe that you are the one who knows your child best, so always advocate and always ask these questions that seem like they should just know.
So in conclusion, please make sure you are asking these questions to your child’s daycare teacher.
I want to make sure that we can ask about the environment.
Remember that you are the one who is the biggest fan of your baby.
These daycare teachers love on and take such great care of your little one, but you are the one who’s going to be the advocate for their sleep.
Stay tuned for more nap solutions at daycare this week!
Want more information on naps at daycare? Check out these videos.
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