For many mums and dads, the first few months of their newborn’s life are a blur and it can take a huge amount of patience and perseverance (plus a healthy dose of humour) to get baby into some sort pattern for their daily routine.
And is so often the case, just as life looks to be a bit more predictable, it’s time for baby to transition to childcare!
Starting at childcare can be challenging on many different fronts – and getting baby used to a sleep routine in the new environment is often one of the biggest hurdles. Baby may be unsettled in the new surroundings and all the extra noise and stimulation can lead to some naptime mayhem.
But rest assured, a quality childcare centre which is staffed by an experienced, caring and loving team will have everything under control so there is nothing to worry about. That said, there are some things you can do ahead of your little one starting at day care that will help them ease into a peaceful sleep routine in their new surroundings.
How can I help my baby sleep well at childcare?
Sleep is essential for the healthy growth and development of a baby and it is vital that your little one gets sufficient quality sleep.
Here are six ways that you can help your baby settle into a routine at childcare:
- Talk to your childcare provider
Your childcare provider should provide a nurturing and caring environment for your child and should be completely happy to chat to you about how and where naptime fits into their daily curriculum.
At Evoke Early Learning, we know how crucial sleep is for a baby’s healthy growth and development and we regularly review and update our sleep and rest policies and procedures to keep abreast of best practice principles and guidelines.
It’s a good idea to book a tour of the childcare centre to get first-hand experience of how the centre operates. Book a tour of one of our centres today – we’d love to meet you.
- Ask about their naptimes
Childcare operators don’t all share the same views on naptime. Some have a system of established nap times for everyone, while others adopt a more flexible approach and allow children to sleep according to their individual body clocks.
- Discuss your child’s routine
Your provider should be completely happy to discuss your baby’s sleep routine and willing to work with you to ensure a smooth and restful transition from home to childcare.
You’ve probably got some special routines that you follow when putting your precious bundle down for a nap. You might rock them to sleep, put on special music, give them a bottle or read a book to them – whatever your routine, make sure you chat to the team at the childcare centre about how you get your little one to sleep.
This will ensure that the steps you take are mirrored at the childcare centre, so that baby feels as little disruption as possible.
It’s also a good idea to ask that your baby be settled by the same staff member for each nap until they become more secure and comfortable in their new environment.
- Establishing a routine of independent sleep
As hard as it may be to hand over responsibility for your baby, it can be very helpful to get them used to someone else putting them down at naptime. Before the time comes for them to transition to childcare, ask a friend or another family member to settle them so that they get comfortable with the adjustment to a ‘stranger’.
It can also be helpful to try and establish a routine where baby self-soothes if they wake up during their nap. This will make the transition to childcare so much easier because they will be able to go back to sleep without intervention when there are disruptions or disturbances.
- Bring some comfort items from home
If your home napping routine involves comfort items (dummy, soft toy, special blanket etc), bringing some familiar sleep aids to childcare can make a huge difference to how well they settle.
- Be realistic
Transitioning to childcare isn’t always a seamless process for you or your baby. Even if they are a strong sleeper at home, they may not settle immediately at childcare and it is helpful to have realistic expectations.
A quality childcare centre will always do their utmost to mirror your home routines when it comes to nap times, but the reality is that it may take time and patience to get the balance right. You might also like to read Why Regular Bedtime Is Crucial For Children
Your choice of childcare provider is important
You may notice that home nap times are different from nap times at childcare. Try not to worry about these differences, the important thing is that your little one is content and happy.
The fact is, you probably have to be a bit flexible when it comes to childcare sleeps and although you have an established home routine, it may not be possible to follow it to the minute at the centre. The trick is to try and keep your sleep cues as consistent as possible and always communicate with the team at the childcare centre.
At our Evoke Early Learning Centres in Albert Park and Clayton, we have beautifully appointed sleep rooms with individual cots to support your baby’s sleep routine. You are more than welcome to book a tour to see how we operate and to chat to us about any aspect of your child’s care, including sleep times and nap habits.