Setting Up a Positive Sleep Environment
Naps are one of the biggest sleep challenges families talk to me about. They are too short – or they don’t happen at all. Often, when babies start daycare we see some nap “regressions”. It makes sense though, your little one is used to napping with you close by, in her own room in her own house and now she is having so much fun with her new friends and daycare providers and sleeping in a new bed. So how can you help with naps at home and at daycare? Setting up a room that is conducive to sleep is key!
Make it dark:
Darkness cues melatonin, our sleep hormone, so we want to make the room as dark as possible. With some daycares this is not always possible, but look around the room and see if there is a spot away from the window – or in a corner and ask if your little one can sleep there.
Positive Sleep Associations:
If your little one has a favourite blanket or stuffed animal at home, get a second (or third) and leave it at daycare. You can sleep with it for a week before starting daycare so that it has a familiar scent – or swap it out with your current favourites at home so that your little one can wear it in a little. If you are currently using a sleep sack at home, ask your daycare provider if you can use one there as well. It is an excellent cue to your baby that sleep is coming next. If you cannot use it at daycare, you can still use it at home!
Make a Little Noise:
Choose white noise over music. White noise, set on a low volume, will help to drown out the background noises. If you use white noise at home, ask your daycare provider if you can supply them with the same machine and have it placed under your child’s cot or crib – but remember to set it at a very low level. If your child is at a home daycare and has their own room then I suggest placing the white noise near the door or window to drown out the outside noises. Music stimulates the brain and is great for relaxing before sleep, but it can sometimes distract your little one from sleep – taking her into the overtired zone and making it harder to fall asleep.
Keep it cool:
Babies sleep better in a cooler environment. Light outfits can help in the summer months when the sun warms the room. A temperature between 20 and 22 °C is ideal.
Don’t be discouraged if your little one doesn’t nap well when she starts daycare. Remember that this is a big transition and the best thing you and your daycare provider can do is be consistent (keep offering the naps) and offer an earlier bedtime when possible.
**This article appears on page 10 -12 in the City Parent Childcare Options 2015-2016 guide.