Careful daycare selection can help your baby nap well there.

How to Get Babies to Sleep at a Daycare

by Leyla Norman

Transitioning from sleeping at home to a daycare can be difficult for your baby. Although you may worry that your baby won’t get the individual attention she needs to fall asleep or that it is too noisy at a daycare for her to rest, daycares typically make nap time as gentle and as restful as possible. You can help prepare your 1- to 18-month-old get the recommended 2 ¼ to 8 hours of daytime sleep she needs at a daycare center.

1 Talk with various daycare providers about your baby’s sleep routine and sleep habits. Find a center that offers the individual attention your baby's needs. For example, you may find a center that moves solely with each individual baby’s routine throughout the day. Other centers may be slightly more rigid in their nap-time schedules. Most centers will put your very young baby down for a nap whenever she signals she is tired.

2 Find a center that shares your philosophy of putting a child down for nap. If you feel that your baby can put herself to sleep easily, but her teachers at daycare rock her to sleep for fear her crying will wake the other babies up, that center might not be the best place for her.

3 Look at the size of the daycare center or infant room, if you are concerned about noise or individual attention at nap time. In-home daycares typically have fewer infants and can offer more one-on-one care to babies. Larger daycare centers may be able to offer more infant rooms with a very low teacher-to-baby ratio in each room.

4 Ask your daycare provider to not transition your 12-month-old to a toddler room where nap times are more regimented and only occur once a day, if your baby is still napping in the morning and afternoon.

5 Practice a nap-time routine at home on the weekends that matches what your child experiences at school during the week. If your baby sleeps with little rocking or holding before nap at daycare, minimize the amount of time you rock him on Saturdays and Sundays. Likewise, if your daycare regularly rocks him to sleep, and you are okay with this routine, rock him to sleep on the weekends as well.

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