Napping at Daycare

You’ve researched, interviewed and visited every daycare in the city (or at least it feels that way). You’ve made a pro/con list and followed my suggestions about choosing a daycare. You’ve reviewed the contenders from top to bottom and narrowed it down to one.

Voila! You’ve found the perfect daycare for your little one.

There’s only one small problem; their sleep routine is different. In fact, their whole nap schedule is different and it’s stressing you out.

You may be thinking; “What’s going to happen when I return to work? How will my child ever nap there?”

Please don’t worry that you will be picking up a complete mess of a child who hasn’t napped all day.

It’s going to be ok, I’m here to help.

As nervous as this transition may make you feel, there are several steps you can take right now to help your child. So let’s get your little one ready for the first few weeks at daycare.

Whether you have two months or two weeks, here are some tips to prepare your child for napping at daycare.

Visit the Centre

It’s likely that you have already gone to the facility or home daycare when you were researching, but once you have made your decision, go and visit the daycare to watch their nap routine.

Who do they place down first?

Where? How loud/quiet is it ?

What about the lighting? Does it get turned down or off?

Are there staff members that switch shifts at this time?

If it’s a home daycare, are video or audio monitors used?

Do multiple children share one sleep space?

The more you know ahead of time, the better you can prepare your child.


If possible, especially if it’s a large provider, arrange ahead of time to speak with the director and/or the main caregiver that will be interacting with your child each day. During this meeting, it’s a great idea to communicate with the provider about what makes your child unique.

How do they like to fall asleep?

Do they like to have their back rubbed, or like to be held close?

How long are they used to the wind down routine taking?

If your child prefers to hear a rendition of Baa, Baa Black Sheep, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (or even something like this ! #nojudgement), your provider will appreciate to knowing that.

Get Caught Up on Sleep

No one is at their best when they’re overtired, so one of the greatest advantages your child can have, is to be well-rested prior to daycare starting. Yes, perhaps it means that you skip the family dinner that is going to run late and cause your child to be tired the week leading up to daycare, but it’s worth it. Trust me on this one, you do not want to be panicking  before you’re returning to work, desperately trying get sleep in order.

Need help getting your child’s sleep routine on track before daycare?

For babies under 12 months, grab your free copy of Baby Sleep Basics

For Children 1-4 years, download the free Sleep Solutions for Toddlers and Preschoolers; Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents.

Wean Co-Sleeping For Naps

If your child is used to co-sleeping with you during the day for her naps, then work at transitioning her to a crib while you’re still at home and have time to do it. I have tips on transitioning from bed to crib here. Learning to fall asleep in her own space with your help will ultimately be less stressful on her, rather than having a daycare worker do it.

Adjust Routine

Another great way to help prepare your child for napping at daycare, is to adjust their routine (if necessary) to that of the daycare’s.

For example; If your child currently sleeps at 8:00 am and 12:00pm, but your daycare will be doing naps at 9:00am and 1:00pm, then each day move your child’s routine ahead in increments. How fast or slow you go will be up to you and how much time you have. The earlier you start, the easier it will be on everyone.

If you moved in 15 minute increments, then on day one, naps would be at 8:15am and 12:15 pm, day two naps at 8:30am and 12:30pm, and so on.  Starting this process with more than two weeks before daycare begins, also gives you the luxury of adding in days of holding at the new time, before moving forward again.

Independent Sleep Skills

Factoring in your parenting philosophy, the daycare provider’s policies and your child’s personality; teaching your child to fall asleep independently prior to daycare will help prepare them for napping at daycare smoothly. I have seen a wide range of what day cares will and will not do when it comes to sleep training, so know their policies ahead of time and accommodate that into your timeline.

Finding quality childcare can be a stressful event, but by following the above tips, preparing your child for napping at daycare, won’t be. Once your child starts she will be content and you can return to work stress free. (Tips on this coming in the third and final post in this series; Help Your Child Adjust to Daycare.

If your  child still isn’t sleeping at daycare, book a consultation today so they can get the healthy sleep their bodies need and you can come home from work to a happy and well-rested child.