Tips for Successful Daycare Sleep

Infant Sleep · Toddler Sleep

Daycare babies can be good sleepers to with a bit of teamwork. It’s all about finding a daycare that will collaborate with parents when it comes to sleep. And even when that’s not possible, there are a few things you can do to help your baby get the quality rest she needs to thrive.

Find a Daycare that Works with Parents

Search for a facility that is willing to work with your family’s parenting philosophy. As you tour centers, do not be shy about asking how the daycare prioritizes sleep. If possible, choose a provider who will do their best to adopt your family’s model when it comes to sleep, potty training, and discipline.

Communicate With Your Daycare

Set the teachers up for success by clearly communicating your child’s sleep habits. This includes nap schedules, not feeding to sleep, and if you sleep train, your chosen method. Write your plan down so the staff can reference it. However, keep it succinct enough for them to actually read it. A one-page concise overview is very helpful.

If there’s one thing you want to emphasize about your baby’s daily routine, it is to ensure sleep associations do not re-bridge. Explain the importance of feeding after naps – not before. Avoiding any potential feeding to sleep at daycare, even if it’s not possible to get the rest of the plan perfect, will make a tremendous difference on continuing great sleep at home.

Common Daycare Challenges

You can find the best daycare staff who are committed to your sleep preferences, but certain challenges still often arise. The reality is that it’s generally harder for babies to sleep in childcare settings than at home. Lights, noise, and the presence of other little ones all make centers more stimulating. Simply being away from home is tricky for some little one, too.

Work with your provider to keep your baby on schedule. Ask that the caregivers at least attempt to put him down while he is still awake. Teachers tend to multiple babies, and they can’t have them waking each other up. As a result, they often need to do whatever it takes to keep the little ones snoozing. However, focusing on non-negotiables – like not feeding your baby to sleep – will help avoid a feed to sleep association.

It can be frustrating, but keep in mind that the very first priority is regulating sleep rhythms and getting baby to sleep at nap time. That will prevent overtiredness which can spiral into much bigger problems at home. That doesn’t mean you just let it all go though! Keep the communication open, and slowly ask the providers to try to wean off soothing to sleep.

What To Do At Home

If your little one isn’t getting sufficient sleep at daycare, compensate with an early bedtime. This is really hard for parents who have missed their baby through the day, but ultimately, it will likely benefit your baby’s mood and promote optimal development. Making up for missed daytime sleep overnight is so helpful.

On weekends or non-daycare days, stay on schedule. Allow naps to go over by thirty minutes as long as you don’t see it impacting bedtime or overnight.

Sleep Training & Daycare

If you choose to sleep train your baby while in childcare, start on a Friday night. Then you will have Saturday and Sunday to practice at home. The first three nights of sleep training make a big difference in the overall process, so doing it over the weekend will ensure that baby does well with independent sleep starting Monday. You’ll be even better off sleep training over a three day weekend if you don’t have travel plans.

Daycare sleep comes with its own set of challenges, but it’s not the end of the world to be a bit more flexible. There is always something you can do to help support your baby in developing solid sleep skills and getting the rest she needs.


Kelsey Hotchkiss is a Certified Pediatric Senior Sleep Consultant and Certified Potty Training Consultant that has worked with hundreds of families over the last five years. As both a long-time educator and a mother of three, Kelsey is passionate meeting the needs of the whole child and helping families make the most informed decisions. She strives to help parents enjoy every stage of the parenting journey with confidence and support!

By Kelsey Hotchkiss, Senior Pediatric Sleep Consultant

Download Our Safe Sleep Guide