Choosing a Daycare that Respects Sleep (Daycare Series, Part 1)

Choosing a daycare can be a stressful endeavor for any parent that works outside of the home. Not only are emotions running high, but an array of factors can play into the decision in where to place your trust.

In this three part series, we will look at the most common issues for parents preparing to work outside the home and how to manage their child’s sleep routine. Choosing a daycare, preparing your child for the transition, and how to manage your child’s sleep once she’s in daycare, will all be explored.

Let’s begin with items to consider when choosing a daycare.

Choosing a Daycare Tip #1

Location, Location, Location

When deciding on a facility or home daycare, you need to weigh the pros and cons of its location. Do you want a place that is close to home or close to work? Is it easily accessible for both parents to do drop-offs and pick-ups, or does the location hinder one parent from helping to  share the job?

If your child is sick, you may want to consider if it’s more important for you to be able to pick her up quickly or get her home faster. The same would go for you as a parent, if you’re feeling under the weather.

Is it close enough that your child can sleep until their normal time in the morning? What about if they need an earlier bedtime-can you manage it with the distance?

There are no right answers here, but if you consider your schedule, your child’s morning wake up and bedtimes, it can help you narrow the options.

 Choosing A Daycare Tip #2

Nap Routines

This subject is a big one for many of my clients.

Through my experience as a sleep consultant, I have worked with daycare facilities, licensed and unlicensed home daycares. I’ve given presentations at facilities for the parents, and have been hired to teach daycare workers for further professional development. So, I have seen a wide array of how naptime is dealt with.

For a large percentage of parents in Canada with one year of maternity leave, many children are entering daycare at around 12 months.

At this age, the vast majority of those children biologically still require two naps a day.

While thankfully the childcare industry is becoming more knowledgeable about healthy sleep habits and the dangers of restricting daysleep, many daycares still automatically put a 12 month old on a one nap a day routine, even if they are needing two.

Some children can handle this, while for many others, it causes a myriad of sleep difficulties after a few weeks as a sleep debt builds.

Want to get your baby on a great sleep routine before entering daycare? Download the FREE sleep resource guide.


I have had countless families contact me after returning to work, desperate because their child has suddenly started having troubles settling at bedtime, waking at night, or waking up extra early in the morning.

Therefore asking questions of your childcare provider’s policy about nap time is essential for harmony in your family once you return to work.

Some factors to consider are;

  • Are all children put onto a one nap a day routine, regardless of age?
  • If two naps are provided, until what age?
  • Where do children nap for the morning nap if it’s provided? (Open area, in a stroller on a walk, or in a nap room?)


Choosing a Daycare Tip #3


As every centre or home daycare will be unique, so to will be their policies regarding sleep. When comparing options, ask about the following;

  • Does the childcare giver follow safe sleep practices for babies?
  • Does the caregiver allow the older baby, toddler or preschooler to sleep with a favourite lovey or blanket?
  • How long does the daycare allow a child to fall asleep? Ie if the child isn’t sleeping in 10 minutes, does the caregiver intervene or end the nap?
  • What happens if the child takes a short nap?
  • What do they do if a child is crying before or after a nap?

Choosing a Daycare Tip #4

Sleep Environment

My final tip for you when choosing a daycare, is to examine the actual room that your child will be napping in. Science tells us that in order to foster deep, restorative sleep, good sleep hygiene is important.  As you investigate child care facilities see if they …

  • Darken the nap room significantly. (Note: for safety reasons, many facilities will not darken the room completely, but they should dim the lights and/or close the blinds if possible)
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature
  • Play white noise (preferred), music or nothing at all

Deciding who to trust for childcare is just one of many decisions you will have to make for your child. By following the above guidelines, you can begin to focus on providers who value your child’s need for sleep as much as you do. Once you have a provider, you can start to prepare your child for napping at daycare, which is the second article in this series.

Did you find a provider, but now your child sleep has gone off track? Visit our consultation page and let’s get your family sleeping again!