One of the most asked questions around a baby’s sleep routine is whether or not little ones can stick to it when they start attending daycare. The short answer is yes! It’s completely possible to continue to sleep-train your baby when they go through a routine change.
Here are our top tips on how to maintain your baby’s sleep schedule:
Talk To Your Daycare Provider
Make sure that you and the people who will be looking after your child during the day are on the same page. Chat with them about your baby’s sleep routine and let them know what works best for your baby. Also, ask the daycare about the sleep routine they follow (nap times, etc.). You can then align your baby’s schedule to the daycare’s before your baby starts.
Tip For Choosing A Daycare: If you’re still deciding between daycares, visit during operating hours. Make sure to ask about safety, healthy food, teacher-to-child ratio, cleanliness, the curriculum, and qualifications of the center and its employees.
Prepare Your Baby For The Change
Going to daycare will be an adjustment for your baby. You need to prepare them before your maternity leave ends. This can include getting them used to bottles (if you mostly breastfeed), and adjusting their napping time to be more aligned with the daycare’s schedule (you can do this by moving their naps five to 10 minutes at a time). “If possible, transition slowly: Start by leaving your baby for an hour a day [at daycare], then add by increments and gradually lengthen the day,” advises Today’s Parent.
Tip For Dropping Off Your Child At Daycare: Don’t sneak out when you drop your child off at daycare in an effort to avoid tears and tantrums. “…being abandoned damages the child’s trust in you. So don’t just sneak away. Say goodbye before you leave to build trust. Some parents develop a goodbye routine to make the departure slightly easier and more fun (e.g. goodbye song, goodbye handshake, etc.),” says Parenting For The Brain.
Teach Your Baby Independent Sleep
Before you send your baby to daycare, make sure that they’re able to fall asleep and stay asleep independently. If they need you to get quality sleep, this will make it a lot tougher for them to adjust to a daycare setting. We recommend putting your baby down for sleep drowsy, but not yet asleep so that they can self-soothe, “This sleep training technique involves you going through your baby’s normal bedtime routine, then putting her down to bed drowsy but awake. When and if she cries, wait a few minutes to see if she settles down herself. If not, go in to pick her up and soothe her. When she’s calm again, put her back down in the crib or bassinet. Repeat the process until your baby falls asleep,” explains What To Expect.
For more in-depth guidance on sleep routines, wake windows, and independent sleep, take one of the Baby Settler courses. We dive deep into everything you need to know about helping your baby sleep through the night.
Prepare The Daycare For Your Baby
Mama, you know what your baby needs for their naps. Make sure your baby is able to get quality sleep at their daycare by providing the daycare with the necessary items. This can include a white noise machine, blackout curtains, and their favorite stuffed animals to ensure your little one is cozy and comforted. Some daycare centers have a policy that the lights remain on at all times – even during naps. If this is the case for the daycare your little one will be attending, ask that your baby have their napping section away from windows and perhaps in a dim corner.
Stick To Good Sleep Habits At Home
Consistency is key! Keeping your baby’s sleep schedule consistent at home will help your baby adjust to the daycare’s schedule more easily. When your baby is home, put them down for enough naps (based on their age). Also, continue practicing a bedtime routine to support quality sleep.
Starting daycare can be a huge adjustment for your little one (and you!), so it’s important to be patient. It may take some time for your baby to settle into a new routine and get used to their daycare schedule. This change may call for flexibility and trial and error. Remember, every baby is different. If your baby is having trouble adjusting to the daycare’s schedule, don’t be afraid to make some changes.