This sleep transition comes with it’s growing pains. I will not say it’s pain-free! But I will say that (like every transition), your child will get adjusted quicker than you think. And better if you can take a bird’s eye view of what your child is going through and support the transition in the recommended ways I mention below.
What I mean by seeing what your child is going through…
Sometimes our child goes through certain struggles, and our frustration with the situation gets the best of us. We see the outcome of the transition as the main problem, instead of seeing the journey to get there. For example, with a transition like daycare, we see our child missing their nap, coming home overtired, battling with bedtime, and is now waking in the middle of the night.
The journey, however, is like this - your child (if initially sleeping well) is sleeping at home with every nap in a crib, alone, in a dark and quiet room. This is what I recommend for optimal sleep - so if this is your situation, all is good. However, when we are transitioning to a nap at daycare, your child is now placed to bed in a new/strange crib or cot, surrounded by many other kids and many other distractions that they aren’t used to. This is super unfamiliar, not an environment your child recognizes when it comes to sleep.
Please understand that I am not saying to support your child’s transition by getting them used to noise and distraction when they sleep. BUT in the daycare setting, they will have to make this adjustment and new connections to the sleep environment – and that takes time.
They will have to learn the rules of naptime at daycare.
They will have to gradually be reminded to use the their sleep skills in a different setting.
They will have to make important new connections with their sleep environment and routines.
Again, this all takes time!!!
(if your child isn't initially sleeping well, all this holds true as well. The environment is very unfamiliar and confusing. But they are not going into the situation well-rested and don't have the sleep skills to help them adjust. You may find the sleep issues you had are now exacerbated)
On top of getting frustrated by perhaps the lack of sleep, we also worry that our child is having a harder time then maybe they are. That they miss us too much, that the environment isn’t right for them…And we feel overly anxious about this transition. You are seen, but it will be ok! It definitely is a struggle, but its normal and common, and most of all necessary for growth. We all go through change and transitions endlessly. This is no different. Be aware of the struggle, take steps to support it, give it time, and repeat.
What can you do to support the transition:
Offer some familiarity: As I said the change is the toughest because it’s new and unfamiliar. The cot, the room, the children, the teachers, the background music. All of it! Send your child with a blanket and/or a lovie that smells like home. Don’t send the one they use at home, otherwise you’ll be having to take it back and forth each day. Help them pick one out from home that will be special to daycare.
Pay back sleep debt: The first few weeks can be rough. They may not take the nap (or might keep it short), and therefore they are super tired by the end of the day. Try to make bedtime early while going through this transition. If you can, speed up the evening for this time.
Keep everything else consistent: This change is a big one. And I’m sure you’ve heard me say that that children feel comfort in routines. It helps them feel safe to know what’s expected. So keeping all other routines the same will help them feel less insecure.
Get sleep on track before you start: Transitioning to daycare can definitely create some sleep setbacks, but they will be much worse if your child is not sleeping well before you start. Well-rested children are more equipped to handle changes around sleep. New timing and environment will be better received for a child with a full tank of gas and the ability to sleep independently.
Give it time: Have I said this enough!? Change is hard for everyone. But especially our little ones who can’t understand the why and are still learning how to express their feelings. It’s also hard on us, when we are faced with an exhausted child at the end of the day and sleep is being disrupted through the night because of it. I didn’t say it’s always easy. But, I did say it will pass soon enough. This transition can take a few weeks, maybe 4-6 weeks to truly set in. But you’ll see the progress. Just don’t get discouraged if there are some setbacks.
So always remember, all changes around sleep take time (I told you I say this a lot. lol). So, do the things needed to support the change and stay patient. And ask for help if you need!
Going through a daycare transition, or really any transition that impacts sleep? Struggling with your child's sleep and looking to work it out before daycare? If you are looking for sleep support for your child or would like more information on how I can help your get sleep back in your home schedule a free chat with me!
Don't forget that if your child is sleeping independently for the most part, and you are simply struggling with how to make the transition or how to bounce back from it - My Goal Set Mini Sessions are perfect for solving such sleep issues that require a call or two. Book one now!
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