One of the first things many of us parents think about when our child starts nursery is "are they going to sleep there"? I was that mum when Leo started nursery and he started on his 2nd birthday bless him! Turns out, he did and they all do! Sometimes they actually sleep better at nursery than at home. Typical!
In this blog I am going to talk a little more about how to manage sleep and day care and also what to do when that nap needs to be dropped and you don’t want them sleeping at nursery anymore!
Check Out The Sleep Stage!
So you have done your nursery visits, you have chosen the right one for your child but if you are just embarking on this journey, you may have some questions about the sleep situation!
When you visit the nursery ask to see the room in which your child will be sleeping in
Do they provide the bedding? Ask to see it.
Ask to see the cots/beds
Ask how old the cots are and if they are regularly checked for safety measures.
Ask how often the cots and bedding are cleaned
Will the room be dark/do they play white noise or music of any sort?
Does the room feel calming to you?
Will a member of staff be in the room while the children sleep and if not do they have a monitor to keep a check
You may wonder what happens if a child wakes, do they help them back to sleep or remove the child from the room in fear of waking the others up.?
Of course you may have worked very hard to remove an association such as rocking to sleep so find out how they will help your child to/back to sleep. Explain your child’s sleep patterns and if they are likely to wake and if you would prefer them to try resettle.
You may like to find out what the routine is for preparing the children for naps. We know children thrive on routine and consistency so this is a key element in setting the stage for sleep. And with the sleep routine you will want to know what time they pop the children down for a nap. The small babies may have a morning nap as well as lunch nap so find out if it is structured times or if they are flexible on individual children’s napping times. For the 2 and 3 year olds out there who are capping naps as they move towards dropping the nap altogether it is important talk about this with the staff. Explain that you would like your toddler to be woken after “X” time, perhaps it is only 30 minutes and the staff should be happy to do this. Also ask where will your child go if the rest of the class is still sleeping soundly. It may be a possibility your child can join another room if staff / child ratios allow or perhaps they can have some quite time in the story corner and be monitored by a member of staff. DON’T WORRY….all will be fine! Children as we know are adaptable in most cases so even though it may take time for your child to adjust to a new schedule and routine of day care they will fall into it somehow! Often children sleep better at day care than they do at home because it is rather like a peer pressure, all their friends are laying down now and closing eyes so I will also…! It is a busy day at day care, a lot of new people and activities to explore and find out about so come nap time they may be very happy to lie down and shut eye for a while and not even notice they have not been rocked to sleep! HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE EVENT? When starting day care I would always suggest if possible to start slow and work up to the full time your require. All nurseries will offer a settle in period and you may also be allowed to stay for the first hour or so which is super lovely. You may just like to start off with a couple of mornings and then move to collecting after nap time one day a week and see how it goes. DON’T FORGET TEDDY! Take your child’s favourite comforter. If you have two even better, keep one at home so no fear of it getting lost or left at day care! You may also like to or be asked to provide your child’s sleep bag and bedding. This is a great transition and comfort for your child as the sheets will smell and feel familiar.
Ask what the staff are likely to do if your child needs just a little bit of help getting off to sleep such as a little pat and cuddle.
Ask if your child will have the same sleep space every day. This will obviously help with consistency. Toddlers often sleep on mats at nursery so ask if it will positioned in the same place each time and next to the same little buddy!
NOT SLEEPING AS LONG?
Your child may miss the morning nap because you are on the way to nursery or perhaps they don’t sleep at nursery because it is a busy and noisy time. If your child is still getting some down time in a quiet place don’t worry too much about it. Such is life, they will adapt and the drive to sleep at lunch will be high and your saving grace! Ask the staff to leave your little one perhaps an extra 20 minutes if possible just to top up that total day time sleep.
Your child may start to wake earlier from the lunch nap than they would at home, this may be due to noise in the room, other children waking or just the fact they are some place new. Don’t worry, its ok and all will be fine! It is very common and expected in most cases. If time allows for a little nap on the way home (aka “The Danger Nap” if it’s after 4pm so ensure you cap it to 15/30 minutes maximum) This of course may push bedtime a little later but it actually may work in your favour because you get to spend a little more time with your child to fill up their love tank and not have to rush home, cook diner, bath and bed after a long day at work.
Ensure you are fully focused on your child at bedtime, with no other distractions like mobile phones and screens. Your child will love to have this time with you after their busy day at the office also!
WHAT IF YOUR TODDLER DOES NOT NEED A NAP ANYMORE?
Often is the case that around 2,5-3 years old. Toddlers are beginning to show signs of dropping the lunch time nap. You can read more about that here
You will need to speak with the staff and explain that you would like your child to be woken after 30 minutes perhaps or if you do not want them to nap at all ask if it is possible for your child to join another room if staff child / ratios allow or if not perhaps they can have some quite time in the reading corner.
PEACE OF MIND
If you are just starting this journey of day care it is OKAY to give them a call and find out how the day is going and ask them to take pictures for you to see! They may even offer this themselves.
Give you and your child time to adapt, it may happen super-fast and easily and others may be a little sensitive and take a few weeks but relax, go with it, this is a big change but an exciting one that opens up new and wonderful opportunities!
Leave a comment below about your experience with sleep and day care. I would love to hear about it!
Do share this blog with friends who may be wondering how to manage sleep at day care themselves and as always...
Happy peaceful sleeping to you
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant