Whether it’s your little ones very first time at daycare or just a transition to a new one, this can feel like a very overwhelming time. As parents we often spend months or even years ensuring our children have a well established schedule, sleep environment and routines and thinking about how your child will do in a new sleep space is a common concern for many parents. How are they going to sleep without me? In a new crib or cot? Without a dark room? What about his schedule?
As a Sleep Consultant and Registered Nurse, I know how important sleep is to the well being of your children especially during big transitions, so let’s explore how we can help to make this transition easier.
- Ask the care provider for the schedule – prior to the transition I find it can be helpful to try and meet the schedule your little one will be on. Ask the daycare provider what the schedule will be like and try to do this within about a 30 min window. It can also be helpful to ask if they have any flexibility to meet your child’s current schedule, they may not but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Lovey or attachment object – It can be helpful to encourage a connection to a lovey or an object from home that can come with them to daycare. In Canada a lovey object is okay after the age of one (check your country’s guidelines where you live!). You can start by feeding your baby with the object and sleep with it in your bed for a little while so it has a comforting scent. Once they start day care they can bring it with them to have a comforting object that smells like home to sleep with. I love the Jelly Cat brand as you can get multiples in different sizes. My daughter has loved her bunny for many years, thank goodness we have multiples! Sometimes I will also suggest sending along your crib sheet from home or a sleep sack so things feel and smell familiar.
- White noise – If your little one is having a hard time with settling in to sleep at daycare, ask your provider if it would be okay to bring in a portable white noise machine for them. Sometimes it just be helpful to have this during the first few weeks to encourage longer naps. I have always used the YogaSleep Hushh.
- Early bedtime – often during the daycare transition, schedules will shift a bit, naps may be more challenging and overall it’s just an exhausting time for your baby with all the stimulation! They will likely be more tired and require an early bedtime for a period of time as they adjust to their new routine! It may be beneficial to move bedtime back by 30 minutes to ensure they get the sleep they need. Sometimes we need to black out the room with extra black out curtains to encourage an earlier bedtime.
Be mindful of exhaustion levels in the first few weeks at day care, it is normal for your whole family to be extra tired. Try to have some low key weekends to spend time together and allow your little one to get extra sleep as they need!