So, you’ve decided to finally tackle your little one’s sleepless nights and inconsistent napping. Learning how to sleep train a baby is challenging in itself, even before you take daycare into account. If you’re suffering from the daycare dilemma, this one’s for you.
The daycare dilemma
Whether you’ve bypassed infant sleep training and are interested in sleep training a toddler, or you’re starting from the beginning, daycare can throw a wrench into even the best-laid plans. While you’re in total control on weekends, you’re reliant upon your child care provider to follow-through with the nap schedule you’ve set. And when you don’t meet in the middle, your little one is apt to feel sleep confusion.
Start by choosing the right daycare
If you’re currently on the hunt for a care provider, knowing what to look for can help you avoid sleep training headaches down the road. Knowing that a consistent, predictable schedule is the key to sleep training, there are a few questions you should ask your potential daycare provider to ensure a good fit.
The first thing you want to ask potential providers is what their approach is to naps. Do they put little ones down at set times, or do they go by custom schedules? Do all of the kids nap at the same time, or will they have separate nap times? Will they accommodate special requests? This is especially important for those little ones still learning to sleep independently. Ideally, you want a provider who will work with your set schedule and try to match it or remain close when it comes to naptimes. You’ll also want to ask if your provider can match your style. For example, are they willing to let your little once fuss for a few minutes before rushing in?
After putting thought and care into your baby’s nursery, creating a safe, cool, quiet, and dark space, you don’t want to send mixed signals by sending your baby to a daycare that cannot provide the same. Ask to see where your baby will be sleeping when they nap. Again, you want to look for at least a semi-private, dark space for your little one to rest. While you’re at it, ask if you can provide a white noise machine for your baby to block out other children’s sounds. If your provider is on-board with white noise, make sure you use the same device at home so that your baby is familiar with the sound.
Working with your current provider
If your little one is already with a caregiver, schedule a time to meet and get everyone on the same page. Communication is vital here, so you’ll want to discuss your approach to naps and stress the importance of keeping your little one on schedule. Let your provider know that you’re okay with a bit of fussing — most caregivers will go with a no-cry approach unless instructed otherwise.
It’s essential that your daycare provider try to maintain what you’re doing at home. This means that you need to instruct caregivers not to give your little one sleep props or pacifiers, and not rock or feed them to sleep. By all means, if your little one has a comfort object, send it with them, but don’t provide any items you don’t use in your routine at home.
Be prepared. Your provider might not be able to accommodate all of your requests. In this case, work with your caregiver to find a compromise, whether it be shifting naptimes a half-hour or being okay with going without the white noise machine.
Daycare doesn’t have to create a dilemma; you just need to know how to work with it. I’ve helped many Philadelphia area families come up with daycare-friendly sleep training plans. If you’re wondering if a sleep consultant is right for your family, reach out and schedule a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation with me.
I look forward to hearing from you!