May 11, 2024

Navigating Daycare and Sleep

Navigating Daycare and Sleep

The transition to daycare can be tough because it involves navigating complex emotions, adjusting to new routines, and trusting others with the care of your child. Not to mention, it is stressful to have zero control over naps at daycare.

However, you will find that you are able to successfully navigate this transition and bub will thrive in their new routine over time.

Here are a few things you can do to help navigate sleep at daycare:


The first step is to talk with the providers about what nap time routine and timing looks like, as this can vary from centre to centre. Some daycares are able to be flexible with your schedule and what has been working for bub and are happy to follow your nap times and cap naps where needed, and others have nap timings pre-set and this is the only option. This can be an important factor to inquire about when choosing your provider, especially is bub is under one year of age.

Speak with the providers about how your baby falls asleep so they can do their best to help replicate and keep it consistent, but know that it is normal for bub to need some extra support while going to sleep at daycare at the beginning.

This is ok and is wonderful if your provider is willing to offer this support, as most babies can separate sleep expectations at daycare from what happens at home.

If you have a bub that is sensitive to these types of change, have them be mindful of lessening this support as bub begins to adjust if your baby is typically an independent sleeper at home to ensure new associations or preferred sleep expectations do not surface.


There is understandably a lot of changes when starting at daycare, so one of the best things you can do is to keep some bit of familiarity around nap time. If your daycare allows, bring your child’s sleep sack or blanket that they are comfortable sleeping with to ensure they have the comfort and scent of home.

Remember to also bring their comforter if they have one they love, this will give them something to snuggle and remind them they’re safe and loved. If you are yet to introduce one then A Guide To Comforters blog may be just for you!

Of course, ensuring a dummy is on hand if your little one loves that, and if your centre allows, bringing a portable white noise machine is also a great idea!


The biggest thing to remember with this transition, is that it WILL take time. You can expect to see short or refused naps as your bub is getting familiar to sleeping out of the home.

Thankfully, these little ones are smart and watching their new friends settle to sleep in this odd place often helps show them they way on what they should be doing. Naps often fall into place within a couple of weeks, but this adjustment period varies depending on your bubs temperament. 

Even once your child has adjusted, it is very normal that naps may be different at daycare than at home. If naps have been refused or quite short, early bedtimes are your best friend and will help ensure over-tiredness is kept at bay. Some centres have policies where they are not able to wake a sleeping baby, so there are some cases where naps will run way longer than normal, on these days adjust by pushing bedtime later.

One of the biggest hurdles, is that this change can understandably bring out a lot of separation anxiety. This can often lead to some bedtime protest, overnight wakes and even early morning rising. Help your little one through this by having extra 1-1 time through the day wherever this may be, and use the weekends or home days to have meaningful connection and fill their cup.

Remember that this can be hard on you and bub, but it will get easier and most little ones absolutely thrive in this new environment!

If you are preparing for daycare or are in the trenches of the adjustment and feel you need support, our 30min Quick Chat is the perfect option for you.

We will help you come up with a plan for daycare naps, tips for adjusting their bedtime if needed and provide more information about how to navigate the separation anxiety.

If you’re trying to transition to independent sleep ahead of daycare, we can help!

  • For parents struggling with several things such as catnapping, frequent night waking, early morning rising or things that simply no longer work, have a look at our Phone + One Week Support option.
  • Not sure what is right for you? Get on the phone to one of our experienced consultants with our FREE 15min Discovery Call