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Sleep Training and Childcare Providers

One of the biggest challenges that you’ll face when you’re teaching your child those important independent sleep skills starts the minute you put them in someone else’s hands for the day.

Combining sleep training and childcare can be tough, I won’t lie to you. You’ve pushed through hard nights, refused to give in when your baby tested your willpower, and now that everything’s finally running smoothly, you need to put your trust in someone else to keep things in order.

Personally, I really struggled with this when I had my son.

All of this hard work and determination? Entrusted to someone I don’t even know?

Not on your life.

But here’s the good news. This is totally achievable. Sending your little one to a childcare provider is not going to sabotage their sleep so long as you take the time to work with your provider, and I’ve got some great tips to help you do that in a way that will make this as easy and conflict-free as possible.

First of all, have you already decided on your provider? If not, then keep reading. If so, you can skip down to the next section.

Choosing a Childcare Provider

When you’re deciding on a childcare provider, here are a couple of sleep-centered things to keep in mind. None of these are deal-breakers, they’re just a few things to consider.

Ask to see where they’ll be sleeping. Is it a fully-lit room with several other kids or a semi-private space where they can keep things dark?

Ask them what their approach is to naps. Do they put kids down at a specific time? Do they allow kids individual nap times or is it all kids together for a specified duration?

Can you bring your own white noise machine? It can be super helpful to provide the same white noise machine that baby’s accustomed to at home.

Are they capable of accommodating specific requests in regards to baby’s naps? (Will they allow your baby to cry for a few minutes, will they hold off on offering sleep props if you ask them to?)

Communicating with baby’s caregiver

Once you’ve decided on a daycare provider, or if you already have your Little Darling in a place you’re happy with, what can we do to ensure everybody’s on the same team in terms of sleep?

Let them know how long you’re comfortable with your child crying for when going down for a nap. Most care providers will default to a no-crying approach unless instructed otherwise.

Be very specific about what you consider a sleep prop and ask them what they consider sleep props to be. Make sure that you are on the same page. Ask that they refrain from using dummies, rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, or whatever you’ve established as methods to get baby sleeping that you think they might become dependent on.

Be respectful of their limitations. Childcare providers are looking after a lot of kids at once and are often required to follow some overarching safety rules, so don’t be surprised if they can’t accommodate every request, you throw their way. Keeping an eye multiple babies at the same time usually means no white noise machines and no dark rooms.

Above all, maintain open communication. Let your childcare provider know that you’ve been working on your baby’s sleep issues and where you’re at with the process. Remember that they want your little one sleeping well almost as much as you do. A well-rested baby who goes down for naps without a lot of fuss is a childcare provider’s dream come true.

A couple of extra tips

If you have not started on the sleep training journey yet then I highly recommend that you start on a Friday night, or whatever day is farthest away from their next day of childcare. The first few nights are usually a roller coaster and your Little Darling is likely to be a little off their usual self for a few days.

I recommend that you have three or four nights in before going to childcare..

Don’t “ease’’ your child in to their new situation. Once you’re ready to start sending child to childcare, start off with the same schedule you want to end up with. If they’ll be going every weekday, send them every weekday right from the start. Don’t send them for a day the first week, two days the next, and so on. They’ll adjust quicker and easier this way.

Babies are more often than not capable of distinguishing between different environments. Habits they learn at their childcare provider won’t necessarily transfer over to sleep in the home, If your daycare provider gives them the dummy or rocks to sleep, don’t worry too much about it. They should still be able to understand that it’s not the same when they’re at home.

Different schedules at home and childcare are fine. In the same vein as the last point, it’s not the end of the world if their nap schedule at daycare doesn’t match up with the one that they have at home. It’s absolutely a bonus if you can make it work, but it’s not essential.

If baby starts falling asleep on the ride home, try to keep them awake. It’s better to put them to bed early than offer a catnap after 4:00 PM. If baby does fall asleep, wake them up when you get home and let them get some more awake time before bed.

All in all, there’s no reason why childcare and sleep training can’t work together. Just keep in mind that your childcare providers are your allies in this mission to better sleep. They have a vested interest in your little one being as happy and well rested as possible, and they obviously want to keep baby’s parents happy too.

Maintain open communication, be respectful and patient, and accept that they can’t always tailor things to each individual child as much as they would like to. Keep up your bedtime routine, stick to your schedule as closely as possible, keep baby away from those sleep props, and things will fall into place.


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