The Daycare Dilemma

We all know that babies sleep much more like adults than we give them credit for. Especially once they hit four months of age, the sleep patterns of our wee ones change to strongly mimic ours.

This means that they need a routine before nap and bed times – just like us! – and a dark, calm, quiet environment so they can fall – and stay – asleep. Knowing this, you went out, you bought the recommended white noise machine, established a routine and set up the blackout curtains in the nursery. And it has worked like a charm (wee hope!).


But now normalcy is about to be turned on its head for you and your wee one. Maternity leave or full-time “mom time” has come to an end, and you’re faced with the monster task of selecting (or being accepted to) a daycare. We know this is no small feat – especially if you live in a super competitive urban area. So, you arm yourself with your handy list of questions – play versus learning time, drop-off and pick-up times, and of course cost.

But did you ever think to ask about how they handle naptime? Maybe you did – and that’s awesome! But just in case you haven’t or are just starting your childcare search, wee have a few recommendations.

Before you sign on the dotted line to hand over your wee one, here are some key sleep and scheduling tips to set your them up for success.

  1. Options: At 12-months, children should be having two naps a day. But many daycares only allow one – with no negotiation. If possible, look for a daycare that honours two naps a day – often home daycares are more flexible.
  2. Transition: If there’s no wiggle room and for sure there can only be one nap a day, then you’ll have to start to transition your little one – and at this age, it won’t be easy.
  3. Bargain: If baby does have to go down to one nap, make sure that the daycare will at least not wake him or her up. Babies need to be allowed to sleep as long as they need!
  4. Environment: Most daycares have so many children that they set up the nap area much like an over-crowded hospital ward. Imagine that – music blaring, noise, doors opening, staff coming in and out and cleaning up around you as you try with all your might to fall asleep for your one and only nap of the day. Ask if your wee one can have a more private space, away from the hustle and bustle – or as far away as possible! Share with the caregivers why it is so so important to have a calm dark space for the kiddos – so many daycares blare loud nursery rhymes and crazy music! You can even suggest they replace their distracting tunes with something calm and not stimulating, or even just white noise. Be brave! The other babies and parents will thank you.daycare2
  5. Bedtime: Even with all these adjustments, and even if your wee one has a quality single nap, keep in mind that at 12 months, your baby will be overtired and it will take (at best) two weeks for them to adjust. An early bedtime is key to help him or her adjust through any regression.

Wee want you to be successful with your wee one’s sleep, and so hope that you are able to find a daycare that supports your efforts for sleep success. Share the sleep love with the daycare and maybe you can even improve the sleep environment for all the little ones!