I see this question almost every day on many mom forums I am a part of.
I hear this question every week.
Will they be able to get my baby to nap?
Mom is going back to work. She has used the best, most divine, crème de la crème, of baby sleep tools to get her baby to sleep for naps. Yup. Her boobs. And their time together is coming to an end. Fear sets in.
Mom: “HOW ON EARTH WILL THEY GET HER TO NAP?!”
Me: “They will.”
Mom: “THEY WILL GET HER TO NAP?!”
Me: “Yes. Yes they will get her to nap.”
Have you ever visited a childcare centre at nap time? Probably not. I mean – why would you unless this is your field of study. But let me tell you – that is some sleep wizardry at its finest. 10 Babies. 10 Cribs. And somehow, at the end of the day, you go to pick that baby up and beside their name you see written the time in which they very much napped, and you can say, wow. They friggen napped! They somehow cast a spell and my baby slept. My baby slept outside her bed. Outside her crib. And she didn’t fall asleep on my boob. Yes. Why yes, she did.
Our babies have a different set of expectations for sleep built around all of their different care providers. Yes they have one way they know how to go to sleep for you, but this does not mean that they will not develop a new language in going to sleep for someone else. They very much will.
Give it time…
At first it won’t be all sunshine and roses. But the sleep fairy will visit. Your baby will achieve some daytime rest. And everything will be right in the world when you come to pick that baby up and indulge in the few hours you have together before bedtime.
Getting inside our child’s mind is always the best place to start. We know our babies think first with the right side of their brain – the side of the brain that allows for feeling, instinct, and intuition to be their guide. So our children do have to take some time to adjust to their new surroundings. They have to get to know the new space. And they have to form a relationship with the people who are going to be putting them down to sleep.
Take even the best of daytime nappers and put them in daycare and you will see some of their sleep unravel.
First they have to form safety and security in their new surroundings. They have to get to know their new sleep space. They have to see it as a safe haven. A place they trust. A place that they can make the vulnerable transition from awake to asleep in; and then return themselves to sleep after partial awakenings at nap time after this healthy relationship with their new abode is established.
Add other babies into this mix. And yeah – it’s pretty much a party! There is lots to look at. Unfamiliar sites, sounds, scents, and new touches. But ultimately, you have chosen this childcare centre for a reason. You had the “good vibes”, you got the “feelings”, and somehow you trusted you could leave your baby all day with these people to watch and care for him.
On a personal note…
My own son transitioned to his childcare centre a couple of months ago. At home – this kid is probably the best napper on the block. In fact – he sleeps better for nap than he does for nighttime sleep if I am being perfectly honest. He sleeps from 9:30 – 11:00 am most days, and then again from 2:00 – 3:30 pm. I rely on those naps to work, check-in with clients, meal prep. You name it. I do it. I am a total nap-time hustler.
But he goes to daycare 3 days per week, and truth be told, he always naps there. I don’t know what they do. I don’t know how they get him to sleep in a room with 9 other children. I mean. I could know. (They have a webcam). But truth be told, that webcam is just gonna stress me out. I would much rather find out at pick-up time that my baby did not nap all day than worry about it when I am trying to get some work done.
I send him with his blankie. I tell them the timing that works well for us at home. And I try to show at drop-off and pick-up that I trust the people I have chosen to care for him, and that they are people who are capable of putting him to sleep. I don’t know if they rock him. I don’t know if they rub his back. And I don’t know if they play lullabies or white noise in the background.
Because at the end of the day. He naps. He doesn’t nap like he does at home. Nope. Not yet. This morning he napped from 9:35 am – 10:15 am, and in the afternoon he napped from 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm. But, we survived the rest of the day. We enjoyed each other as much as we could, even though he was fussy around dinner time, and then he went to bed a little earlier than he normally would.
I know there is a learning curve here. This is a big transition in his life. A big transition in my life. And it is going to take some time for all of us to get the hang of it.
But what I do know is early childhood educators have been getting babies to nap since the beginning of time, and so.. I really do leave it in the hands of the “experts” each day and hope for the best. I know they care very much about my son, would rather spend time with a rested infant than an overtired infant each day, and so, they will find a way that works for them.
And if you are finding your baby actually naps BETTER at daycare than they do at home… well… that is a whole other blog post in the works! Ha.
Thank you as always to my beautiful photographer Stacie-Lynn.