Monday, August 15, 2011

Sleep challenges at daycare only

Question: My daughter goes to daycare for 10 hours, 4 days a week. She is 14 mos. old and in a room that has a designated nap time 12-2. She will nap for the first hour but, assuming that this is the end of just one sleep cycle, she will start to stir and eventually stand up. I am fortunate to see her room with a web cam, so I see that all the other children are still asleep, but the teachers are at the table, likely talking.

At home, she will take a 2-3 hour nap ~10am and usually another 1 hour nap ~3pm. On daycare days I get her to bed about an hour and a half after we get home -- just enough time for dinner and a bath, so she already gets as much sleep as possible at night.

The issue is that she is so extremely tired and fussy when I go to pick her up from school that I nearly cry. I need to help her sleep more there so I have my happy baby to visit with before bedtime on school days. Any suggestions are GREATLY appreciated!!!


Answer: Dear Carrie:

First of all recognize that this is a very stressful schedule for both of you. Next, what you can control is your routines.

You will need to pay careful attention to your routine because you do have such a stressful schedule. Realize there is a difference between routines and schedules!

Your routines with her need to be very nurturing and consistent. I suggest you read some of the prior questions and answers about bedtime routines on this page.

Bedtime routine is a great opportunity for you and her to de-stress together. I suggest turning down the lights, the sounds, putting on some peaceful, restful music and doing a lovely bath time and massage. The massage will relax her and you at the same time!

Second, You cannot get her to sleep more at daycare unless you are doing the same routine with her that you do at home. She will choose how long she will sleep when she is in a daycare setting.

You can try somethings like making sure she has a favorite stuffed toy or blanket (comfort toys). However she is reacting to her surroundings. Something she will either grow out of or eventually adapt.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller


  1. I do daycare and I appreciate that you pointed this out:
    "Second, You cannot get her to sleep more at daycare unless you are doing the same routine with her that you do at home." especially, and: "She will choose how long she will sleep when she is in a daycare setting." this as well - kids act different in different places and with different people. Every Monday there is more crying and more sleeping than any other day of the week... because shedules are not kept. Parents don't always think of their kids in terms of how will skipping nap to do whatever today effect them tomorrow.

  2. There is a difference between schedules and routines. I agree they need to have their routine kept however schedules are based upon the clock and not upon one's biological clock. I mean that if they routinely go down at the daycare they should most likely have a nap at home as well. Not necessarily at the same time just that they need one at home as well as the daycare. Routines based upon schedules (time) are not really productive to young children as they are more process oriented. They don't have a concept of "time" until around age 8. So befor this it is supportive for them to finish what they are doing and then move to the next activity.