I talk to parents daily who struggle with finding the balance of work, time with their kids and honoring the sleep their child needs. The struggle is real!
The reality of both caregivers working, can mean later bedtimes than desired, and daycare can mean fewer or less restorative naps than desired. This makes it tougher to give babies and children the rest that their little bodies desperately need.
This however, does not mean that it just is what it is and you are bound to have a tired child. There are things that you can do to help them with their sleep. Here’s how you can help:
Daycare sleep can be tough just in that the sleep environment is not the same as it is at home. Often our kids are sleeping in brighter rooms and with many other children. You can do little things to help. Bringing in a white noise machine (if the daycare allows) can help to drown out the noise of the other children. You can also ask for the crib in the corner furthest from the noise and light. Little things like this can make a big difference in how well your child sleeps at daycare.
Ensure safe sleep
When looking for a daycare or if you are already enrolled in one, a top priority for sleep should be safe sleep. Safe sleep is easily remembered in a simple acronym: ABC! Your baby (under 12 months of age) should be
A – Alone – sleeping on a flat sleeping surface, with a tightly fitted sheet and with nothing but them and the clothing they are wearing in the crib.
B – on their Back – until they reach 12 months of age, they should be placed on their back to sleep.
C – in a Crib – no other sleeping surface is safe for sleep. This means that neither a swing, nor anything with an incline or anything of the like is safe for sleep. Nor is on a pillow of any kind.
Please, please ensure that your daycare provider is ensuring that your child is sleeping safely while in their care.
Our kids need a lot of sleep and there are optimal times in the day that they need to sleep. An age appropriate schedule is important for healthy sleep and ensuring that your child is well rested. Though, not all daycare providers are able to offer naps at the appropriate time and some will remove naps sooner than your child is ready to drop a nap.
Be aware of your child’s sleep needs and continue their age appropriate schedule whenever they are home with you. On daycare days, do the best that you can to communicate to your provider on their optimal sleep schedule. If they can’t meet the schedule, get your child to bed as early as you can on weekdays and if needed, make up for lost sleep on the weekends.
Meeting the Early Bedtime
Yes I know, life is life and an early bedtime may not be doable on weekdays. Do the best that you can. Any minutes that you can shave off in the evening will help your child tremendously to stay well rested. So, this may mean that the bedtime routine is a bit shorter during the week. You can also lay out pajamas in the morning, to save you the few minutes of looking for them in the evening. You can also prepare meals ahead of time or plan simple meals during the week. Any little thing that you can do with help!
By putting a little effort into meeting the early bedtime that our kids need. You are actually helping to avoid the avoid an overtired state. This will help to avoid bedtime battles, night wakings and early mornings.
Making up for Lost sleep
Yes, I talk about the early bedtime, but for some it is just not doable. I work with many clients who cannot, because of work schedules get their little ones to bed on time. Also as I’ve already mentioned, naps at daycare may not be ideal either. It’s ok, it is not the end of the world. You can just focus on the weekend to make up for the lost sleep during the week. This means honoring the naps that are needed and an early bedtime on the weekends. By doing this you can help your child’s sleep to be in a bit more balance.
I know that honoring the sleep that your child needs, for a little while at least, means a sacrifice for you. A loss of time with them is tough. I am aware of how tough that can be. Please keep in mind that this is temporary. Later bedtimes will come.
In the meantime though, you can look at quality time in a different way. You could change the time of day where you play with your children. In the morning before you head off to work / daycare is actually a great time for play. Our kids have a bit more energy and are in a better mood in the morning ;). You can also have special parent / child dates on the weekend too. These are fun!
As mentioned above, our kids need a lot of sleep. A lot more than we do. If we can honor that for them, it will help them to learn skills more easily and quickly. It will help them to fight off illnesses more easily with a stronger immune system. A well rested child has better balance and won’t get hurt as easily.
Certified Sleep Consultant
Good Night Sleep Site Florida