Survive Holiday Travel with These 7 Sleep Tips

Survive Holiday Travel with These 7 Sleep Tips

The holidays are a hectic time of year. With so many things to do and people to see, it’s no wonder so many families struggle to get a good night’s sleep with all the excitement. And if that wasn’t enough, many people travel out of town to see family during this time of year. With all of those changes to your child’s sleep schedule and sleep environment, how can you ensure your little one stays well-rested so the whole family can enjoy the holidays? Try these seven sleep tips!

 

1. Start Well-Rested

Whenever your family needs to travel, regardless of whether you’re taking a plane, train, or automobile, the best way to start travel day on the right foot is to start well-rested! That means do everything you can leading up to the trip to keep your child’s sleep schedule on track, including making sure they get enough sleep the night before. Travel day can be unpredictable. If your child got a good night’s sleep, they will be less likely to be overtired if they miss a nap in the middle of the day or if bedtime get’s pushed back. And we all know, a well-rested kiddo is a much more pleasant kiddo!

 

 

2. For Travel Day: Anything Goes

On travel day, my number one rule is…survive! Travel is unpredictable and exciting. Your little one may not go down for a nap because they don’t want to miss a moment of excitement. Or they may have trouble napping in a new or noisy environment. Do whatever you need to do to keep your kiddo calm and happy. If that means more snacks or more screen time than normal, that is totally okay. Just do what you need to do to get through it and make it to your destination.

 

 

3. Stick to Your Schedule

Whew, you made it through travel day. Now what? During your trip, try to stick as closely to your child’s sleep schedule as possible. That means maintaining their normal wake time, nap time (or times) and bedtime routine. I’ll talk about managing naps further down the page, but what I want to focus on here is consistency, when possible. Whatever part of your child’s sleep schedule you can control, try to keep things as close to how they would be at home as possible. If everything else goes out the window, stick to your bedtime routine. Go through the steps in the same order as you would at home and try to have your kiddos in bed for their normal bedtime. 

Bonus Tip: Purchase or head to the library to borrow some travel or holiday-themed books to bring along with you on the trip!

 

 

4. Manage Expectations

During your trip, you may be tempted to fit everything in, cramming your schedule with visits with family, fun outings, and other activities. But remember to manage your expectations. Keep the schedule reasonable, and remember to make time for your little one to rest. As tempting as it may be to let baby skip a nap or let bedtime fall back an hour or two so that you can fit all the extra activities into your trip, I highly recommend you resist the temptation and stick to the schedule as closely as possible. And remember, things may go a little differently for a few days, meaning your child may struggle to nap or fall asleep at night, so they may become overtired and cranky more quickly than they would at home. So, manage your expectations and keep your plans light and flexible.

 

 

5. Mimic The Home Sleep Environment

The best way to help your child get a good night’s sleep away from home is by mimicking your child’s home sleep environment. Whether you’re staying at a hotel or bunking with your in-laws, there are few things you can do to create an ideal sleep environment while away. Remember: dark, cool, and quiet. Make the room as dark as possible, crank down the AC, and use a white noise machine to block out any background noise. 

 

Maintaining your little one’s own sleeping space is the best-case scenario to make sure everyone gets a good night’s sleep. If your little one is used to sleeping in his or her own room, room-sharing on vacation can be overwhelming and lead to tough nights. Even sleeping, your baby will be aware of your presence. If you’re staying in a hotel, try to book a room with an attached area or separate room. I know this is not always possible so in a pinch, the bathroom can work well too (as long as there is good circulation!) If you’re staying with friends, talk with them in advance about having separate spaces for sleeping. Home offices work well as a makeshift nursery!

 

 

Bonus Tip: Use a SlumberPod!

The SlumberPod is a great option for families who travel often and need to create a separate sleep space for their kiddos. The SlumberPod is a safe and quick-assembly privacy pod that helps your baby and/or toddlers get a good night’s sleep, even while traveling. These pods are bottomless portable privacy pods that completely enclose standard play-yards, mini-cribs, and select toddler cots — giving your baby or child their own dark and private sleep space (like at home).

 

Convinced? Grab your SlumberPod here. And, my friend and fellow Sleep Consultant, Kala Guichard (owner of Sleep at Last and SlumberPod fanatic) graciously shared her discount code with me! Be sure to use sleepatlast10 at checkout to save $20 on yours today!

 

 

6. Nap On The Go

It’s okay to have more naps on the go when traveling. Ideally, if your little one is used to taking more than one nap a day, attempt a solid morning nap at the hotel or house where you are staying. Starting the day well-rested allows for more flexibility for later naps to happen in the car, in someone’s arms, or in the stroller. It is not uncommon for naps to be more challenging when traveling.

 

Traveling can be tiring so also keep a close eye on your child’s sleep cues. Remember that if naps are short or happen on the go, bedtime might have to be 30-60 minutes earlier than normal.

 

7. Exceptions to the Rule

Above all remember, travel is temporary. You aren’t going to mess up your child’s sleep permanently after just a few nights. So, if you need to make exceptions to the “sleep rules” I’m giving you permission to do so, within reason. If your child refuses to nap all day long, that’s okay. Let it go and just keep on trucking. But, make sure you plan for an early bedtime and watch your child’s sleep cues. Try your best to stick to what you can, and give yourself and your kiddo grace with the rest. The ultimate goal is for everyone to enjoy the trip, and you can jump right back into your regularly scheduled routine and re-establish your child’s sleep habits once you are back home! 

 

I hope you and your family enjoy the upcoming holiday season! I wish you safe travels and hope you have the best time on your out-of-town trips! Be sure to bookmark this blog so you can use these tips to ensure everyone gets the sleep they need. And of course, if you come back home and find that naps have gone out the window or bedtime has become a nightmare again, shoot me a message. We can work together to help your family re-evaluate and get to the bottom of your sleep struggles, so you all can sleep soundly again!

It’s Time To Fall Back: Navigating Daylight Saving Time

It’s Time To Fall Back: Navigating Daylight Saving Time

Who here hates Daylight Saving Time? Fingers crossed this is the last year we have to even talk about this… But unfortunately, we’re still “falling back” this year at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 6.

Every year I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep.

The time change really does affect our sleep patterns, not just for our children but for adults, too. Did you know that there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings time kicks in? All of us feel the change in our sleep schedule, and it can increase our sleep debt – especially in children, who tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. 

But if you’re a mom, I don’t need to tell you that Daylight Saving Time can mess with your family’s sleep. What you really want to know is…what can you do about it?

 

Don’t Touch That Clock

My recommendation is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day.

After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks.

It will feel much better this way, trust me!

 

How can I prepare my child for the time change ahead of time?

Check out the graphic below for a visual explanation, but if you want to have the least effect on your sleep when the time changes, my advice is to make the adjustment slowly. Ideally, you’ll start this process a full week before the time changes, but if you have a little less than a week you can still make it work. What you want to do is adjust your child’s wake-up time by 15 minutes every couple of days, so eventually you’re adding 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then a full hour to their original time. So when the clocks “fall back” an hour, your little one is already used to waking up at the new time.

If that’s confusing, here’s the chart I use for my Chasing Dream families.

 

What if you didn’t prepare?

Don’t panic. If you’re reading this on the day of the time change, there are still ways you can help your child adjust without a huge interruption in your family’s sleep. You are still going to use the 15-minute increment method, so your child’s entire schedule will shift forward by 15 minutes when the time changes. If they normally wake up at 7 AM, try to stretch their wake-up time by 15 minutes and wake them up at 7:15. Put them down for their 2 PM nap at 2:15 PM. Push bedtime from 7 PM to 7:15 PM. Do this for a couple of days, then adjust forward by 15 minutes again so you are adding 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then the full hour to their new wake-up time. 

 

If you’re confused, this graphic might be easier to understand.

 

If none of this is making sense, don’t hesitate to reach out! You can find me @chasingdreamssleep on Instagram and Facebook or in my Formerly Tired Moms Club on Facebook! 

 

What about my baby that doesn’t have a set sleep schedule like older kids?

From birth to 6 months of age, no real schedule exists yet. You just need to keep proper age-appropriate Wake Times. For 3-4 days, keep a slightly earlier bedtime, then resume your usual bedtime. 

 

How can I spot signs my child is overtired due to the time change?

Most parents are pretty good at identifying the signs of fatigue, but here are a few of the common ones you can look for to help time your child’s sleep schedule during the time change transition:

  • Rubbing eyes
  • Red-rimmed eyes
  • Rubbing or pulling ears
  • Rubbing or scratching nose
  • Rubbing face into objects (such as your shoulder or a blanket)
  • Yawning
  • Arching back
  • Hyperactivity

 

What if the time change is the least of my sleep problems?

Are you exhausted and tired of googling solutions that just never seem to solve your sleep struggles for good? Are you dreading the time change because you’re already losing sleep due to early morning wakings, bedtime tantrums, middle-of-the-night wakings, failed naptimes, or a combination of any of these? It may be time to call in a professional.

Schedule a FREE Sleep Consultation on my website to learn how my sleep training methods have helped hundreds of families like yours find real, lasting solutions that help them finally get more sleep!

Trick or Treat Without Losing Sleep | A Sleep Consultant’s Guide to Halloween

Trick or Treat Without Losing Sleep | A Sleep Consultant’s Guide to Halloween

Is your family going trick or treating this year? I know that years ago before my family was sleeping well, I dreaded late nights like Halloween night. I knew that winding down for bedtime would be nearly impossible after hours of running around the neighborhood in costume, eating candy, and seeing all of the spooky decorations. And if you aren’t sleeping, chances are staying up late and supervising your munchkins during all of the festivities sounds even more exhausting. Believe me, I know the feeling.

 

Sleep Training was a game-changer for my family in a lot of ways. One of them was our ability to enjoy nights like Halloween without dreading how they would affect our sleep. Once we had a solid sleep schedule and a predictable bedtime routine, I was a lot more willing to let my boys stay up every once in a while, because I knew we could bounce back the next day. 

 

If your family is gearing up for a big night of trick or treat, and want to make sure it doesn’t disrupt your sleep, try these tips that have helped my Chasing Dreams families navigate Halloween with ease!

 

1. Be Prepared

Try to avoid overtiredness and overstimulation; start Halloween off as well-rested as possible. Try to ensure your child is rested prior to Halloween, so if they go off schedule a little for one night, the effects will be minimal. Halloween is exciting, so try to give your child time to enjoy the festivities by starting early if possible!

 

2. Limit Sugar

Start out Halloween with a good, balanced meal, so your child will be fueled up, and not as prone to fill up on sugar. We all know how sugar affects sleep! Consider allowing a limited number of candies while trick or treating instead of waiting until right before bed. Some families allow a certain number of candies per day, while others offer a trade. For example: your child can turn in their candy after enjoying it for a day, to get a special toy. Some dentists also offer a trade-in system, where they will take the candy and give them a special reward.

 

3. White Noise

Use white noise to block out the sound of trick-or-treaters if your child is going to bed early. It may be beneficial to put a sign over the doorbell to ask not to ring the bell, explaining that your child is in bed.

 

4. Leave Candy On the Porch

If your child is going to bed before trick or treating is over, consider leaving candy on the porch to avoid the doorbell. 

 

5. Start Early, Be Flexible

If your child is trick or treating, start early, so bedtime isn’t too late. For best success, keep to your child’s normal bed timing. Or try to stick as close to your regular bedtime as possible, but you can be a little flexible and have fun! If you stay up late on Halloween, make sure you are back on track the following day to avoid overtiredness.

 

6. Bedtime Routine

Keep your bedtime routine consistent! Once they’ve checked out all of their loot, it’s time to start that bedtime routine. They will be excited and wound up, so having the familiar and consistent steps of your bedtime routine will help them to relax and prepare for sleep. Consider shutting off all of your lights to help with the melatonin release to help them feel sleepy, and do your bedtime routine by flashlight, for a last little bit of spooky fun!

 

I hope your family has a wonderful Halloween and that these tips & tricks make Halloween night a little easier. If you enjoyed these tips, be sure to join my FREE Sleep Community, Formerly Tired Moms Club. This Facebook Group is where I drop a TON of live training on popular sleep topics, free resources, workshops, and so much more. Plus, you’ll get the chance to connect with other moms who all have the same goal – to graduate from the #tiredmomsclub for good! See you there!

9 Proven Tips to Help Your Child Conquer Their Fear of the Dark

9 Proven Tips to Help Your Child Conquer Their Fear of the Dark

Spooky season is upon us, and with it comes scary movies, creepy decorations, and a lot of frightful fun. We love celebrating the Halloween season, but this time of the year can also create a lot of fuel for nightmares. So how can you make sure your whole family sleeps peacefully this Halloween season? Today, I want to offer a few tried and tested tips that I have used with my Chasing Dreams families to help their munchkins conquer their fear of the dark.

At what age do children become afraid of the dark?

Fear of the dark usually pops up around age 2-3, when your toddler’s memory and capacity for imagination are developing. Your child may experience nightmares until they are school-age, but they will be less likely as your child gets older. But giving them the skills to overcome their fears can help them feel safe, even when nightmares pop up.

What causes fear of the dark?

When your child becomes a toddler, they begin to become more aware of the world and realize that there are things that can hurt them. As their imagination grows, they have trouble separating reality from imagination. Fears can be triggered by stress, whether because they are going to bed overtired, because they are learning a new skill, or because there has been a change in their environment. Fears can also be triggered by what your child watches, sees during the day, reads in a book, you name it. In a toddler’s imagination, anything can become spooky when they are alone in the dark.

How can I help my child overcome their fear of the dark?

1. Encourage Them to Stay in Bed 

Your child should stay in bed and find out for himself that he really is safe so that he can learn to overcome his fears. If your child is too frightened to stay in his room alone, it is okay to occasionally stay with him until he falls asleep. If you end up doing this frequently or for more than two nights in a row, he may come to depend on your presence to go to sleep, and you may have to redo your sleep plan all over again.

If he is sleeping in a big kid bed, and he gets up in the middle of the night and comes into your room to tell you about a nightmare, it is best to take him back to his bed. Check on him. If your child is anxious about you leaving, check on him frequently. It is better to check on him on a predictable schedule, every 5 or 10 minutes, so that you’re coming and reassuring him is not based on him crying or calling out for you. Again, nightmares should be a very infrequent occurrence and anything occurring more frequently is usually because of an inability to connect sleep cycles, usually a result of inconsistencies around sleep and getting attention at night for being afraid.

 

2. Listen and Validate

We want to listen when our children develop a fear or hesitancy of their own. Stay calm, and acknowledge that you hear them. You can ask them to tell you more about their dream or what might scare them about the dark, etc. but try not to react in a way that will belittle them or in a way that will play in to the fear (“Let’s go right now and look under your bed for monsters”). Or worse, “If you’re a good boy, the goblins won’t get you.” It’s never too early to tell children that while fears are valid, we don’t want to let them control our lives. Let them know that goblins and witches aren’t real, they’re only costumes, etc., but validate the emotions they are feeling.

 

3. Play in Your Child’s Bedroom

Play in your child’s bedroom with them. Lots of parents keep most toys out of the room, so the room isn’t seen as a fun happy place by the child. Make sure they play in there. Even if the toys leave after they finish.

 

4. Age-Appropriate Screen Time

What children see can have a huge impact on young children. Make sure to check ratings and suggestions before allowing your child to watch shows or play games. Startling, violent, or “bad guy” imagery – even if it seems mild to us – can be disturbing for youngsters and will stick with them for far longer than you want it to.

 

5. Games in the Dark

Make being in the dark fun. Play flashlight tag. Use flashlights to make shadows on a wall. Talk about how shadows are not bad; they are simply part of the room. In the daytime, sit in the dark room with your child and look for shadows. Look at them and talk about how they are simply a part of the room and how they are made. Help your child understand that it isn’t necessary to make shadows go away (in fact we can’t) but he can know what they are and that they are harmless. Have a treasure hunt and search for things that glow in the dark. Use your imagination and be creative. Use your imagination to fight imaginary fears, like monsters. You can also get several glow-in-the-dark toys or bracelets to explore in the dark. Shadow books (like “Whoo’s There? A Bedtime Shadow Book”) are also fun!

 

6. Noises

Noises are always mundane and heard by adults. Your kid can NEVER hear something you didn’t. Pets, squirrels, birds, cars/trucks, pipes, furnace, water heater… NAME the sound and swear that’s what it was until your dying day. Never waiver. Go visit the sounds. Visit the furnace, water heater and visible pipes in your house. Kids don’t know what they are, teach them. Run the water or turn up the heat to get them to make some noises and talk about how they help the house. Noises aren’t scary when they have a name and a purpose.

 

7. Daytime Imaginary Role Play

Have your child be actively involved and in control of coming up with solutions to help him gain a sense of mastery and control. As a daytime activity, lie on the floor with pillows and blankets, and ask him who he thinks is brave and strong. Whatever he says, go with it. If he says, his pet chicken is brave, ask, “What would your chicken do if there were monsters.” (Be careful with your language, so that you aren’t agreeing with him that there are monsters, but saying, well, suppose there are monsters, what would your brave hero do?) And whatever he says, go with it. If he says chicken would use a sword and destroy them, repeat that back to him. Don’t correct him if you don’t like his idea. Ask him to imagine what he is doing to something he is afraid of.

(Later on, if you like, you can tell him that what he imagines is reserved only for the monsters and not anything else).

 

8. Security Object

Most children are comforted by having a stuffed animal or comfort item nearby for nighttime company. Help your child become attached to a security object that he can keep in bed with him. This can help your child feel more relaxed at bedtime and throughout the night. His “stuffed bear” is “brave” and it stays with him throughout the night. Avoid scary television shows. Keep your child away from scary TV shows, videos or stories that may add to his fears.

 

9. Relaxation Techniques

Teach your child relaxation strategies to help him relax at bedtime and fall asleep. For example, have your child imagine a relaxing scene, such as lying on the beach or watching a sunset. This will give him something else to think about while lying in bed and help distract him from fearful thoughts. Also, it is physically impossible to be relaxed and scared at the same time. Discuss your child’s fears during the day. Talk to your child about his fears during the day and how he can be less frightened at night. Additionally, build your child’s self-confidence during the day. If he feels secure during the day, this can help him feel more secure at night, too.

 

These tips are just a few ways you can ease your child’s fear of the dark. Most children grow out of their fear of the dark, especially with a parent’s help, and start sleeping again in no time. But if you’ve tried every trick in the book and your family still isn’t sleeping, it may be time to call in the experts. Schedule a FREE Sleep Evaluation with me to learn more about Sleep Training and how my proven methods help families like your solve their sleep struggles for once and for all.

When Is the Right Time to Sleep Train?

When Is the Right Time to Sleep Train?

I am asked this question all the time. From moms of newborns, toddlers, school-age children…no matter the age, so many moms are asking this question. They want to know: “When should I sleep train? Is there a right age? When is too late? Are we too early?

So today, I want to talk about when a professional Sleep Consultant recommends you begin sleep training.

Everyone has a different opinion on when you should begin sleep training. Some people say you can’t sleep train too early. Some people say that once your child is past a certain age, sleep training won’t work. So let’s dive into what sleep training actually is, and how you know it’s time to give it a try for your family.

First of all, sleep training is teaching the skills your child needs to develop independent, healthy sleep habits. Sleep is a skill set that can be taught. Sleep training teaches your child how to fall asleep on their own and stay asleep through the night. Although there a plenty of different sleep training methods, the goal of every method is to help your child establish these core sleep skills. 

So, when can you start teaching your child healthy sleep habits? Here are the two biggest ways you’ll know when it’s time to start sleep training:

 

1. You Are Ready

This may seem like a no-brainer, but as a parent, you personally need to be ready for sleep training. A lot of parents reach out to me when they are at the end of their rope. They’ve tried every other solution they can think of and nothing is working. They’re willing to try anything to reclaim their sleep. 

Parents also need to be ready to commit to doing the work that make sleep training so successful. Sleep training isn’t always easy at first, but the long-term results are worth it. Many parents shy away from sleep training or fail to follow through because they aren’t ready to commit to the consistency that sleep training requires. Sleep training can be emotional, so having the right mindset going into it and leaning on support (whether from your partner or a professional Sleep Coach) can help you be more successful when things get tough.

 

2. Your Pediatrician Says It’s Okay

Before beginning sleep training, you will want to get permission from your pediatrician. At Sleep at Last, what we do is not medical. We are not medical professionals, so we do not look for medical reasons why your child may not be sleeping well. Sometimes, there are medical conditions that may be disrupting your child’s sleep, and a pediatrician can diagnose and treat those issues. At Chasing Dreams, we focus on behavioral approaches, which will only go so far if there is an underlying medical condition that is going untreated. So, reach out to your pediatrician to make sure they can sign off on sleep training and rule out any medical reasons for why your family is losing sleep.

Once both of those things are in place, you’re probably ready to start sleep training. However, as a Sleep Consultant, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Here are a few situations that I see that could prevent you from beginning sleep training, even if you are personally ready and

 

3. All the Opinions

As a mom, I know that there are opinions about nearly every aspect of being a parent. Some people just don’t jive with the idea of sleep training. And those people might be your mom, your friend, your pediatrician…and they may have pretty loud opinions about it. But at the end of the day, you have to go with your gut and do what you know is right for you. Mom shaming is real, but I know we are all out here trying to do our best. No two families are the same, and no two children are the same, so what worked for your friend may not work for you. And that’s okay. So I encourage you to ignore the “haters” and do your research so you can make an informed decision for your family. And if sleep training makes sense for you, I’m here when you’re ready. 

 

4. You Heard You Need to Wait Until 6 Months

If your baby is younger than 6 months, your pediatrician (and some other Sleep Consultants) may recommend that you wait until your baby is older to begin sleep training. At 6 months, most babies can go through the night without a night feeding. A lot of people believe that sleep training won’t be effective until your baby is capable of sleeping through the night, because sleeping through the night is the whole point of sleep training, right? Well, actually no. The goal of sleep training is to build healthy sleep habits, and you can actually begin sleep training and start establishing healthy sleep habits earlier than 6 months. 

That being said, there is a lot that goes into newborn and infant sleep. There are a lot of feedings and a lot of naps. At Chasing Dreams, I create an individual sleep schedule tailored to your child, that is appropriate for their age and stage of development because every child is different. I don’t want you to go without sleep any longer than you have to, so even if your child is not 6 months old, we can work together to find a solution and create a solid foundation for sleep success throughout their life.

 

5. You’re Worried It’s Too Late

It is never too late to help your child learn healthy sleep habits. If your child is a toddler (older than 18 months) or even school-age, there are approaches we can use to target your specific sleep struggle and find an age-appropriate solution. Often, at this age you’re dealing with little ones who are pushing their boundaries and dealing with discipline. I can help you work through those issues when it comes to sleep, so you can stop struggling with bedtime, early morning wakings, waking through the night, and the other sleep struggles I see so often in older kids. Helping your child develop sleep skills is only going to benefit your family, no matter what age your munchkins are. 

So, to answer the question “When is the right time to start sleep training?” it really depends on you and your family. But if you’re ready, your doctor has signed off, and you don’t have any other concerns…chances are it is time to take the leap. If you’re ready to get started, sign up for a FREE Sleep Evaluation with me, where we can talk about your family’s sleep struggles and discuss how sleep training would work for your family. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, and we can discuss whether it is the right time for your family to say yes to sleep training and finally get a good night’s sleep! 

Navigating Daycare – How You Can Help Your Child With Daycare Naps

Navigating Daycare – How You Can Help Your Child With Daycare Naps

Daycare can be quite challenging, especially when it comes to naps. If your child attends daycare, then you know that daycare isn’t always an ideal sleep environment. Infants don’t usually nap at the same time, which can make it very hard for your baby to get a good nap in during the day at daycare. The lights stay on. As one baby goes down for a nap, another is probably waking up or fussing across the room. There’s a lot of stimulation that will make it difficult for most babies to truly nap well.

As they get older, and move to the toddler room, things get a little easier because there is a scheduled nap time. The sleep environment becomes a little more conducive to napping, as the room quiets down and the lights are lowered. But unless your toddler is a great napper, naptime may still be a challenge, leaving them overtired and in a sleep debt by the time you pick them up in the afternoon.

So how do you help your child get better naps at daycare, so they can get the sleep they need?

1. Advocate for Your Child

You know your child best. You are their sleep expert, so you know exactly what your child needs to make naptime easier. Don’t be afraid to talk to your daycare and let them know how they can help your child at naptime. Your daycare does have multiple children to take care of, so keep in mind that they may not be able to honor every naptime request. But the goal is to reach a happy medium, so your child’s needs are met to the best of their ability. 

2. Ask For Ways to Improve Their Sleep Environment 

Is there a way the daycare can make the room darker? Can your child nap in a crib in the corner of the room, away from any extra noise or movement? Is there a possibility of using a Pack N Play or a SlumberPod? Can they use a sound machine during your child’s naptime? The answers will depend on the daycare. An at-home daycare may have more flexibility, and be more capable of making modifications. The key is to make it easy for the daycare to say yes. Provide anything that is needed to make the modifications, whether it’s offering to purchase window coverings or sending your child with the sound machine they need to make naptime easier. 

3. Make Sure They Are Napping On Schedule

While it may be difficult for the daycare to get this one right every single time, you want to emphasize the importance of following the right nap schedule for your child. Your child’s individual nap schedule will depend on where they are in their development. If your child is going down too late or too early, they’re going to have a hard time getting in quality naps. If your daycare has the flexibility to follow your child’s exact sleep schedule, provide one for them. This could be in the form of exact times or just following the ideal wake windows for your baby. If your daycare doesn’t have the flexibility to follow your child’s individual sleep schedule, you may need to consider adjusting your family’s schedule. We can’t always control what happens at daycare, but we can control what we do at home. Could you wake your child up earlier, so their first daycare nap falls at the right time according to their wake windows? Are you able to pick your child up early, before they go down for their last scheduled daycare nap, so they will be tired when they get home and go down for a nap at a more ideal time? Get creative, and again, work to find a happy medium so your child has the best chance at following a good nap schedule. 

4. Try an Early Bedtime

Along with making small changes to your schedule to help your child nap at ideal times, you may also consider moving bedtime to an earlier time. If your child isn’t getting quality sleep during the day, they’re going to quickly become overtired before bedtime. It may feel like they are going to bed really early. But moving bedtime up can help your child sleep when their body is ready for sleep, rather than after they are overtired. And remember, this won’t be forever. They will only need an early bedtime until they are napping better at daycare, whether due to changes in the daycare environment or because they are aging out of needing as many naps.

5. Promote Independent Sleep Skills

Again, you can control what happens at home, but you won’t always be able to control what happens at daycare. This includes the methods daycare staff uses to help your child fall asleep. If your child is finally developing independent sleep skills at home, sleep props like rocking to sleep or feeding to sleep at daycare can harm their progress. Speak to the daycare staff and let them know what is and isn’t preferred to help your child fall asleep independently. Is it possible for the staff to give your child 5 to 10 minutes to settle themselves, rather than intervening immediately? Explain that if your child learns how to settle themselves will help them nap longer and go down for naps easier in the long run. 

6. Ask the Daycare to Follow Eat, Play, Sleep

The ideal schedule for your baby is: eat, play, sleep. Your baby should feed, have awake time to play and practice new skills, then sleep to rest and regroup before the next eat, play, sleep cycle. Ask your daycare if it’s possible for them to feed your baby when they wake for a nap, rather than right before naptime. Feeding before naptime can cause your baby to develop an association between eating and sleeping, which makes it difficult for them to develop independent sleep skills and can throw off their whole schedule. 

 

The bottom line is: Don’t be afraid to have a conversation and ask for your child’s needs.

While your daycare may not be able to accommodate every single request, simply having the conversations and advocating for your child can help them have more successful daycare naps. Remember to be kind, courteous, and flexible while still getting your point across. And know that this period of your child’s life is temporary. They will age out of it, and sleep will get easier. 

 

But, in the meantime, if you know that your family needs more help with naptime than these tips can provide, let’s talk. Schedule a FREE Sleep Evaluation with me to learn how Sleep Training can help your family address your biggest sleep obstacles and start finally getting the sleep you need.