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Daycare and Nap Transitions

Updated: Apr 25

How to navigate nap transitions at daycare if your baby isn’t quite ready!

kids at daycare

As a sleep consultant (and a Mom),I understand the concerns parents may have when daycares transition their little ones to a single nap before they are developmentally ready. In Ontario the majority of families have 12 or 18 months of maternity leave. So lots of baby's head to daycare at the 12 month mark, and some daycares want all the kiddos on 1 nap. This transition can disrupt your baby's sleep routine and leave everyone feeling overwhelmed & overtired! However, it’s not an impossible situation. Having open, honest communication with your daycare is the best strategy to help your child navigate this transition with minimal sleep disturbances.


Understanding Developmental Readiness: It's important to recognize that each baby develops at their own pace. While daycares may have a standard age for transitioning to a single nap, it doesn't mean that your baby is ready at that exact point. Observing your baby's sleep patterns and cues is crucial in determining their readiness for this change. If you feel your baby is too young for the transition, try to address this concern with the daycare staff, there could be an alternative if you express your concerns with them. It’s likely in their favour that they don’t have an overtired grumpy baby!


Support with Additional Naps at Home: If your baby still requires multiple naps but is transitioning to a single nap at daycare, prioritize their sleep needs at home. On weekends if you're finding baby really tired, you can offer 2 naps to help them through the weekend. On days they have only had 1 nap at daycare, don’t be scared of an early bedtime! Should your kiddo fall asleep in the 10 minute car ride home, take that into consideration for their bedtime as it’s likely released some sleep pressure!


Help with stretching their Wake Windows: In order to be on 1 nap, kids need to have a wake window of 4-5 Hours. At 12+ months some kids are able to deal with longer windows easily, some might need a bit more help. If your kiddo needing some help stretching their window, try for lots of daylight when they wake, playing with favourite toys for for the end of their window. Stretching windows by 15/20 minutes at a time every few days is usually the best for


Emphasize Quality Nighttime Sleep: To compensate for any potential sleep deficits during the day, prioritize quality nighttime sleep. Creating an environment that helps promote a great overnight sleep is easy to do and can make a significant impact.

-Black out blinds

-No monitor lights etc.

-Sound Machine

-Room temperature between 60-67 (F)

-Consistent bedtime routine.


Reminder: While navigating a daycare's transition to a single nap before your baby is ready can be challenging, but they will get there eventually. If you do see interrupted sleep at night it is likely due to over tiredness. Be sure not to introduce any new sleep associations during these wakes, and remind yourself it’s temporary and everyone needs time to adjust!


You’ve got this

xo Erin

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