Calling all daycare families! A few weeks ago I asked my Instagram followers to share their Daycare Sleep Questions and you did not disappoint! There were so many questions! And today, I’m answering! If you’re not already, go follow @littlezsleep on Instagram so you won’t miss our monthly Q&As and lots of other insights on sleep..and silly things happening with our girls.
I’m gonna do my rapid-fire style throughout this video to answer as many daycare questions as I simply can.
So there’s a lot in there, let’s unpack it. Yes, you are correct. Daycare sleep is not going to be as good as it is at home.
Now our sleep cycles during the day are usually about 30 minutes for a baby, for a child. And so this is why at daycare, they could fall asleep, but at the end of one sleep cycle, they could trigger to wake up because it’s bright, it’s loud, and they’re emerging out of a sleep cycle attempting to go into another one, but they’re distracted, so they can wake up.
Whereas at home, they can easily go from one sleep cycle to the next.
So that’s the science behind what’s happening.
You’re asking, you’re assuming that the daycare sleep is not as good as the night-time sleep, which is two different things, actually. So naps and nights are different. They actually use different parts of your child’s brain. So yes, naps and nights are different.
You are saying that you’re struggling with the early bedtime because you have to wake up at 5:00 a.m. I don’t know how old your little one is. I’m going to assume a baby, especially since they’re napping at daycare. So the latest I can tell you to put your child to bed is 6:00 p.m.
If they have to wake up at five, we really have to honor at least 11 hours down in the crib for the night. Again, I don’t know if they’re too young, newborn or four or five month old, that’s gonna have night-time feeds, but we have to be able to honor as much night-time sleep as possible.
And if you have to wake up at 5:00 a.m. then we’re gonna need to go with the 6:00 p.m. like at the latest bedtime.
Maybe, you know your baby is the one who just cries for a few minutes and then falls asleep. And that’s really common, especially for babies under 12 months where they don’t have a blanket or a stuffed animal.
So all they can really, they want to do is just let out a couple of wines, couple of moans and go to sleep.
So I would just, first of all, I would let the daycare teachers know like, Hey, by the way, my kid usually cries for about five minutes and then falls asleep. And so just let them know that upfront for sure.
And again, this is gonna be helpful if we can get a white noise machine going at daycare for your situation, that would be awesome, and explain that to the teacher. So ask when we’re talking about what props can we bring, ask them, “Can I bring a white noise machine? My child usually takes a few minutes to fall asleep and sometimes their self soothing mechanism is crying.”
But also it’s like the whole sibling thing. Your baby may cry for a few minutes before they fall asleep, but they are not the only one in that room crying. I promise they’re not! It’s a room full of babies. There’s going to be crying throughout the day. So I wouldn’t stress too much about it. I would just inform the daycare teachers that that’s normal for your baby to cry for a few minutes and then fall asleep.
Yes, it is so appropriate for you to ask them this!! This was one of the questions that I said in our first video, please ask them and come to your daycare in hand with a schedule to be like, “please implement this!”
First you could ask them, do they have a schedule for this room? And if they say no, then be like, great, here is my child’s schedule!
So just have it behind you. Oh, you don’t have schedule here’s mine. And I would really just talk about it like every single day. And if it becomes a problem, you could always always talk to the other teachers.
If there’s a director, you could talk to them. Most of the clients that I’ve worked with in a situation where there is no schedule, we provide one, the daycare teachers are really accommodating to help figure something out, right?
Because we want to make sure that our baby’s napping well so that they are in a good mood, right? So that they have a good day.
I can definitely understand that, I think the whole world is gonna be dealing with that, right? Like you’ve been living just pretty free flow working from home, and then all of a sudden, boom, we got to get back into work.
And so I would definitely, not be too concerned about the abrupt jump. Honestly, your child is probably gonna adapt better than you. They usually do!
Babies, kids are so flexible, so I would not feel like you have to prep a lot.
If you want to, maybe the week before you go back to work and go back to daycare, like, alright, let’s get back into the zone. The whole getting ready for September for school to start, right? Like we’re gonna start to get back in our schedule and a routine and you know, letting go of the summertime.
That week before, just start preparing a little bit mentally, like, all right, we’re gonna get back into our nap schedule. And honestly, they’re gonna be just fine.
They’re gonna jump back to daycare, they’re gonna jump back to their schedule. And pretty soon it’s gonna feel like, wait, you remember that weird time we were all at home!?
So I think you’re gonna be good. It’ll be probably more of adjustment for you than your kid, honestly.
So the four year old class, all right. The four year old class still naps and she’s having a hard time falling asleep at night.
This can be so difficult, I know, right?
Around three years old, they don’t need to nap anymore. They need 11, 12 hours of sleep all night long.
So one thing that I would do is we can explore some options. You could ask the teachers, Hey, is it possible for her to go to another room? Like can she not nap and go somewhere else? If they say yes, great. If they say no, is it possible for her to be the last one to lay down for nap?
So I got really creative a couple of years ago with a client. Basically what we asked was, Hey, can this kid be the last one in the going potty line? Like they had lunch and then they immediately went potty and then went down for their nap.
And so we had him be like the last one to go potty. So he was the last one to lay down on the mat. So it was like a little bit of a shorter nap. And then we asked if they could wake him up first. So if we can maybe cap this nap down to an hour, that would be really helpful.
But at four years old, if she’s napping, she is gonna have a hard time falling asleep at night.
I need you to remember that she only needs 11 to 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. So however much she’s napping, you’re gonna need to deduct that. She may need to go to bed at eight or 8:30 and sleep until maybe 6:30 if she has a mid-day nap.
And I know that can feel so, like, you know, you’ve got to release that control, especially in a situation where we’ve all been home all the time.
So there’s two things. One come in hand with your schedule, right? Say, “Hey, this is my child’s nap schedule.” The second thing is, you’re gonna need to follow up and you’re gonna need to check in.
So perhaps your daycare may be uses an app or an online portal system or a camera system, or even just a piece of paper at the end of the day. And they say, “Hey, here’s when your kiddo napped.” If it doesn’t align at all to the schedule that you gave them, then I would be pushing back.
I would say, Hey, did you try to put my child down at this time? Hey, did they fall asleep earlier on their own? Can you tell me about this? Can you tell me what happened?
Because you’re not there, but you’re still their biggest advocate.
And so if they’re napping schedule that on the end of the day, it doesn’t look anything like what you actually gave them.
You’re going to need to push back and ask some questions and ask why then maybe the schedule is off.
Or why was there such a long wake window? What happened? Can you tell me about this?
And I wouldn’t accuse, right? Let’s not accuse first, we can just ask the questions, right?
We can always ask like, Hey, tell me about what happened this morning. I see he had a nap two hours later than what he actually needs. Can you tell me about that?
Come to the table friendly, but also just with your child’s absolute right nap schedule in mind.
Because again, you are their number one advocate.
So I’m assuming she is sleep-training, perhaps using our Sleep E-Coaching program? And how can you do that at daycare?
You can, you can absolutely sleep train while your child is at daycare.
Hundreds and thousands of families have done our programs while at daycare.
Usually here’s the key. They are going to act differently for the daycare teachers than they are for you.
So that’s a good thing, right? They’re going to act completely like another kid, usually a daycare. And what I would suggest you do is bring, maybe you’ve got our plan, or maybe you’re using another method, whatever program you are using, take the nap section and go inform the daycare teachers, what you are doing.
All right, now there’s a couple of different ways this could happen.
One, they could implement it and it works great and everything’s wonderful.
The other thing that can happen is that the baby is just absolutely refusing to nap and the daycare teachers don’t wanna do it and we may need to find a different solution.
I’ve had some families who find another caretaker for a couple of weeks to get naps under control, and then bring them back to daycare. Other situations have been, yes, they found another daycare completely, or we really worked hard on the weekends to do this, but you can sleep-train and have the lights on and other babies in the room.
Because your child is smart! Your child knows the difference between daycare and home.
And because of that, they are going to be able to adapt differently. I know it’s not ideal situation, but they still can fall asleep independently in their crib. They may not sleep as long as in full as they do at home, but it’s still a thing.
I probably could tell lots of stories. I’ve worked with so many grandparents who did not want to sleep train.
A few years ago I worked with a two year old and we worked so hard to sleep-train this boy who had been co-sleeping, but the grandfather was like, no, I don’t want to do that.
And he always just let the two year old nap on his bed while he read the newspaper in the rocking chair beside him.
And it was so hard because Grandpa was not changing anything. And at the end of the day, I just had to back off and be like, “Hey, listen, we can tell grandpa what to do.” Same thing, you can tell grandma, “Hey, this is really what I would like for you to do.”
And this, you don’t find me saying this very often, but if what they’re doing is not impacting naps at home or nights with you, I would probably honestly let it go.
Because in this situation, in many grandparents situations, we have this amazing free childcare, or maybe low cost childcare, and it’s really difficult to push back and be like, no, seriously do this, but it depends on your relationship with grandma.
Like if grandma is all for things and or maybe not all for things I should say, maybe they’re not all for it. But naps at home are terrible and nights are awful, and you’re trying to really get into this and train, then we’re gonna need to have a sit down like heart to heart meeting.
And just be like, hey, I know that you don’t wanna bother with it, but it’s really impacting my night and here’s what’s happening. And so we’re probably just going to need to have a really big talk together to really share what’s going on so that grandma is read in on the whole situation.
So I hope that gives you some encouragement, whether it’s, things are going fine or things are not going fine, there’s always something we can do. And I know it’s awesome that grandma helps, let’s just have a little sit down.
Yes!! Unless your 12 month old is waking up at 8:30 in the morning or maybe 9:00 a.m. which I kind of doubt… then that is too late!
I’ve had so many situations over the years where the mother’s day out program, actually, there was one mother’s day out program that I worked with a client and, Oh my goodness, they didn’t offer a nap. It was a half day program, and for her eight month old they didn’t offer a nap so that the child would be nice and tired by the time their parents came to pick them up.
Oh gosh! That was so annoying, and this is kind of similar, right?
Like that is definitely not the appropriate schedule.
So can we ask to go to another room, is there another room that the child can go to? If they’re being pushed, that’s like what, that’s probably a good seven hours from when they’re waking up in the morning. That’s way too long and I’d be surprised if the kid was not dozing somewhere in between all of that.
So can they go to another room? Can they go to, maybe the younger room?
Is there anywhere else?
Can we put the child to a nap earlier than that?
Can we get flexible?
I’ve even had situations where took the child to the office and the pack and play, to go nap. So maybe we can get creative like that, but that is too late, a 1:30PM nap.
The only time I’ve ever done that is if a kid wakes at, like I said, and the eight or nine o’clock hour, usually after one o’clock they get a second wind and then you’re dealing with a really overtired kid. So it is too late, let’s see what we can do about that.
Should you pack your child’s comfort item with them for daycare?
Yes, yes, yes, yes! But again, remember this is 12 months and up, so a child can have a comfort item starting at 12 months. And then on, up from there.
What I would suggest you do is maybe buy duplicate, so if they have a bunny that they sleep with at night and they love that bunny get two bunnies.
Keep one in the daycare backpack, and one at home. That’s less back and forth you have to do.
Same thing with sleep sacks, keep an extra sleep sack, there’s a pack I look at from Carter’s. I think it’s three sleep sacks for 20 bucks or something. I would keep sleep sacks for daycare and sleep sacks for home.
So yes, bring your child’s comfort item, keep them separate though. Don’t bring the one from home to school. Why? Have I ever told you the story about how I lost my comfort items? When I was little, I took my teddy bear on a road trip and I am talking like I was in third or fourth grade and I had my teddy bear that I loved and I lost it, yeah, lost it on a road trip. So yeah, just keep them separate.
Keep one at home and one on the go or one at daycare, so that you don’t end up in tears on that.
Usually this change happens around 12 months old. It freaks people out because they still look like little babies, right?
How can they be expected just lay on a cot and fall asleep without getting up. First of all, you are never going to be able, please do not ever do this, do not get yourself a cot and keep it at home.
I’ve had people ask me that like, Oh, that’s cool, can I go ahead and get them an open bed? No, you cannot, the crib to cot is at daycare, not at home.
You do not need to worry about teaching them this. This is something they will do at daycare, it’s called the herd mentality.
Your child will be taught this and they’ll see other kids do this. They’ll see all the other kids lay down on a cot and close their eyes and pull up a blanket and go to sleep.
Usually they get to sometimes have a pillow. So just check in to see what you can bring for them. Pillows don’t happen till age two so this just maybe depends on your child’s daycare and what they’re able to do. But anyways, they will do it at school, but not at home.
And don’t worry about it, you don’t have to teach them this. This is something we’ll leave to daycare and usually what happens is they turn the lights off, which is really nice.
They turn the lights off when they go to the cot and it’s like a designated nap time. This is when like, yay, I finally get to see great naps at daycare. So I’m a fan of this transition honestly!
All right, this is hard because it depends on the age of the child. If they’ve obviously had short naps at daycare and they’re exhausted, they may fall asleep on the way home, and I like to use this as a bonus, yeah a bonus nap so that we don’t have to rush home and get the kid to bed.
Okay, so as an example, if you have a eight month old who is on a two nap schedule, but they took like three 20 minute naps throughout the day, which is a thing at daycare, then I would use your ride home, to try to like get them a little bit of a boost. Maybe you have a 15 to 20 minute drive and they’re falling asleep or dozing throughout that.
You can usually buy yourself another hour and a half, maybe two hours at that age, you’re not gonna use the entire wake window. So an eight month old, who has and I again, I don’t know how old your kid is, so I’m just going with a hypothetical here.
An eight month old who can be awake for three and a half hours between the end of nap and bedtime, that’s not cot in, that car nap.
Car naps are not the same thing as a nap in a crib.
They’re actually less quality than the ones at daycare. I mean, think about it, when you have dozed off in a car or an airplane, do you sleep great? Do you wake up feeling like, I’m so refreshed. Nope!
So it’s very similar when you have an on the go sleep, it’s not the same quality as an actual crib sleep or even the daycare sleep. So use it as just a little like push. Maybe you’re picking your kid up at five, you get home at 5:30, they took a little bit of nap there, I would get them home, play with them, offer them dinner, start at six o’clock getting them ready, and then 6:30 they’re done for bed.
So it’s not gonna buy you that much of time, just a little bit so that you don’t have the instantly start bedtime routine as soon as you get home, right? So maybe an hour and a half, maybe two hours, kind of depends on the kid, but especially for daycare, I really rarely for babies, I’m rarely seen a seven o’clock bedtime if they have to get up pretty early in the morning. So you’re gonna have to figure this one out. I know this is not like a black and white answer, as I’m saying all this, two hours is probably a lot.
Two hours is probably a lot of a week time at the end of a long day. So it may just be an hour and a half and that’s fine. You definitely, I would be watching your child’s sleepy cues is the key.
Watch your child’s sleepy cues at bedtime routine. If they are not into the feet, if they are trying to fall asleep during the bedtime routine, then you need to move your bedtime up earlier and don’t push them as long and hard.
But that little car nap on the way home could give you a little bit of a push so you don’t have to do like a 5:30 bedtime.
Hey guys, thanks so much for all of your great questions over on Instagram. I always wish I could answer every single one of them, but there’re so many, I never have enough time, which is why we do this YouTube channel. So don’t forget to subscribe because a little known fact is that we actually take screenshots, we look at every single question that comes in on our Q&A’s and it helps us develop ideas for this channel.
So make sure you subscribe so you won’t miss you never know I’m gonna answer your question. Maybe you’ve been watching us and you’re like, “Becca, how can my child even sleep? They’re not even doing that!”
Well, so many of our daycare families are having an awesome success inside of our sleep e-coaching program.
You heard me hint about the fact that like, Hey, if your kid sleeps well, we can just transfer that to daycare.
It’s a thing, so if you’ve been watching this whole week series and you’re wondering what’s next? Sleep E-Coaching is your next fit.
If your child cannot sleep at all independently, this is the program for you. Get ready to have all the tools you need to help to teach your child how to make sleep a thing. Now, I am pumped for you guys to be able to step into this because it’s already for you. If you have loved this entire week of daycare series and information, let us know. I would love to hear directly from you. You can comment below or send us an email email@example.com so we can hear all about your daycare, napping success, sweet dreams.
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