I recently worked with a client whose 6-month-old went to daycare during the week. We conquered getting her daughter to sleep through the night and take great naps at home but daycare was a bit of struggle and always hit or miss with naps. On our last call, mom asked me “Should I just put her down early or should I wait for her normal bedtime?”
I’ve got three tips that will help with this dilemma.
Tip number one: First find out why she’s not sleeping well at daycare. I find that a lot of people just bury their head in the sand around daycare and
hope for the best. What I tell everyone to do when you’re interviewing is find out what do they do around naptime.
Are things scheduled? Do they have a quiet place to sleep? Or is it just, “Oh, if they fall asleep in the stroller that’s fine.” You really need to investigate a little bit and find out if the situation is conducive to what you’ve created at home.
Tip number two: Find out how they actually get your baby to fall asleep. Some daycares are great and they’ll do whatever you tell them to do which, in my opinion, should be the way it is. You’re the boss here. You are the parent. You are paying the bill. They should be able to do what you want them to do. If you come in really clear and say, “Listen, I put my baby down, awake, and she falls asleep on her own. All she needs is a quiet environment and a crib of her own and she’ll do great,” why wouldn’t they want that? That makes their job that much easier.
But some daycares, for whatever reason, have certain policies in place where they don’t do that. They wrap the babies up and rock them to sleep or put them in a swing and let the motion put them to sleep. You need to find out what’s going on and how they are
getting your baby to sleep in the first place. If it’s the total opposite of what you’ve worked really hard to create, you need to keep looking.
Tip number three: For some babies, they just don’t sleep as well when they’re out or at daycare or whatever the situation is. None of us do, really. We all sleep better in our own beds, so that makes sense to me. If you find that they do what you ask and they try really hard and she doesn’t quite sleep as well, if she’s grumpy by six o’clock, then absolutely put her down early. I always say there is no reason why you need to live with a grumpy, tired child to hang on to some magical bedtime that you’ve created in your mind. Six o’clock rolls around start bedtime routine. Get her down by 6:30, and that would be fine.
Because she’s not going to daycare every day, then on the days she’s home with you and sleeping great, it’s no problem to hang on to your normal bedtime. We do want the body clock to get in line with a consistent bedtime; but there is wiggle room around that. It’s not set in stone.