Napping (or not) at daycare

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  August 26, 2011 06:00 AM

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My 15-month-old will return to daycare full time this fall after being home with me most days this summer. (She goes once a week so she doesn't forget about it.) She goes to a home daycare where other kids range from infant to preschool. Generally, I love the daycare. But (there's always a but, isn't there?) because the kids are at so many different stages, they have very different nap needs and the stars rarely align for a quiet nap time. I'm worried that my daughter won't take the naps she needs.

Early in the summer, we had a great nap schedule. She would act tired and be willing to nurse to sleep around noon, then nap for 2 hours. Then we went on a vacation to a different time zone, and the schedule was messed up. She has been resisting napping. Some days she takes a very short nap (1/2 hour) at a reasonable time, other days she resists as long as she can, then succumbs to a nap late in the afternoon. She gets up 12 to 13 hours after going to bed, but wakes multiple times overnight.

How can we encourage good napping? If she won't take good naps at daycare, how do we compensate?

From: TeacherMom, Metro Boston


Dear TeacherMom,

The typical 15-month-old needs between about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of daytime sleep so it sounds like she's in that range. That she's given up the morning nap is also typical for this age. Naptime, as it sounds like you know, is most easily achieved when there is a predictable routine, a sequence of activities at the same time each day that lead to the nap. Even in a family setting with mixed ages, it's typical for there to be a quiet time (at least 15 mins) where all kids are on their cots or mats, looking at a book, cuddling with a stuffed animal, etc. Some may not fall asleep, but others will. In fact, she may fight sleep at first if she thinks she's missing out on something fun, but when she sees that everyone has to be on the mat/cot, and if she's tired, she will likely sleep. If the caregiver doesn't have a quiet time policy, can you suggest that she try it?

When nap is missed, of course, she may get cranky and have a harder time settling down at night; being over-tired makes it harder for a child to fall asleep. For those nights, the best compensation is to allow for her to be able to sleep longer. That means starting the bedtime routine earlier than usual. FYI, Richard Ferber's book, "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, second edition," continues to be my favorite resource for sleep issues.

I'd love to see some comments from family care givers about how they handle naptime.

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2 comments so far...
  1. As a Licensed Provider we are required to nap all children under 4yrs who are in care more than 6 hours a day. Here we have Lunch ,wash up and read stories until 1:30 then everyone has quiet time. The little ones have mats, babies have cribs and Schoolagers sit on the couch and watch a movie or go to the table read, paint or color quietly.No one has to sleep but all the little ones are out in minutes. Between 3:00 and 3:30 they are up and ready to get busy.

    Posted by Gramma Reen August 26, 11 07:14 PM
  1. I am not a provider but have 3 small kids, including twins. They have different needs. Even the twins, although the exact same age, have different needs. At their home daycare and at our house, post lunch "quiet time" is manditory. One may have to stretch out 15 min longer when tired and another might go in for a nap 15 min too early, the preschooler may just rest with books on a mat. But it is manditory!
    The LW wrote that she nurses the toddler "to sleep." Better to have nap/bed time routines that are not so closely related to nursing for comfort. She need other methods of soothing herself when she has periods of light sleeping.

    Posted by rathgar August 30, 11 09:43 PM
 
2 comments so far...
  1. As a Licensed Provider we are required to nap all children under 4yrs who are in care more than 6 hours a day. Here we have Lunch ,wash up and read stories until 1:30 then everyone has quiet time. The little ones have mats, babies have cribs and Schoolagers sit on the couch and watch a movie or go to the table read, paint or color quietly.No one has to sleep but all the little ones are out in minutes. Between 3:00 and 3:30 they are up and ready to get busy.

    Posted by Gramma Reen August 26, 11 07:14 PM
  1. I am not a provider but have 3 small kids, including twins. They have different needs. Even the twins, although the exact same age, have different needs. At their home daycare and at our house, post lunch "quiet time" is manditory. One may have to stretch out 15 min longer when tired and another might go in for a nap 15 min too early, the preschooler may just rest with books on a mat. But it is manditory!
    The LW wrote that she nurses the toddler "to sleep." Better to have nap/bed time routines that are not so closely related to nursing for comfort. She need other methods of soothing herself when she has periods of light sleeping.

    Posted by rathgar August 30, 11 09:43 PM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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