baby playing with toys-daycare

Stressed out about how baby will nap at daycare?

Sending your baby to daycare can be a stressful time - especially with naps.

You’re either dreading going back to a job you don’t love, or you’re antsy to get back to work and starving for some adult conversation.  For me, it was a mix of all-of-the-above.

Either way, you won’t be spending every day with your baby anymore and it’s got you panic-googling ways to help them get nap-ready for daycare (if that’s how you found me, hi!).

Here are a few things to keep in mind to ease some of your worries and make the transition as smooth as possible.

1 - The right fit

The most important thing is that you’re comfortable with the daycare/care provider you’ve chosen.

Listen to your gut – I can’t stress that enough.

Does their approach to child-minding align with your parenting style? Are they willing to be flexible with helping your baby get to sleep? If something feels off, consider looking for another provider.

You should feel good about where your child will be attending, even if you’re a bit nervous about the transition.

2 - Let them work it out

Once you’ve got the right provider lined up, know that your child will find their groove with them eventually, but it does take time. Our daycare provider recommends allowing 6 weeks to settle in – more if you’ve got a sensitive little one.  They’ll figure it out together.

There’s no need to get your baby sleeping in a crib or night wean them in order for daycare to work out.  It’s very common for bed-sharing, breastfed-to-sleep babies to nap happily at daycare.

In fact, it happens all the time (much to the parents’ disbelief)!

The right provider will work with your child in finding a rhythm that works for both of them. 

3 - A piece of home

Send a special item that reminds your baby of you to daycare. This could include a shirt that smells like you or a well-loved comfort object – something familiar to hug or keep close during nap times.

4 - Creative work arrangements

If you’re worried that 5 days away from each other will be too much for your child (or you!), explore employer flexibility

 Can you work from home? Are flex hours an option? What about shorter days?
Could you go back for four days a week, taking Wednesdays off so that you’re only away from each other for two-day chunks at a time?
Many employers are willing to make flexible arrangements – and you don’t know what yours is willing to do until you ask.

5 - Prioritizing reconnection

Know that heightened separation anxiety and needing you more intensely is a normal part of the transition to daycare.

Your baby hasn’t seen you all day and is missing you! They might be fussier, more clingy, and wanting to nurse like a newborn again.

It’s all normal.

Focus on reconnecting when you’re together, especially in the evenings after being away from each other all dayHere are some ideas on how to do that:

  • Tell them how much you’ve missed them at pickup and greet them with a huge smile. Let them feel how excited you are to see them again. 

  • As soon as you get home, play with them for 20-30 minutes before doing anything else. This lowers any built-up stress from the day and helps your evening go more smoothly.

  • Keep all routines as close to pre-daycare life as possible (for example, keep nursing to sleep/bedsharing/snuggling, same bedtime story, etc). Keeping things predictable at home will help your child deal with the transition to daycare more easily.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Are you stressed out about your baby starting daycare? What are you most worried about?

Know someone that could use some help easing their daycare stress? Be sure to share this with them.  

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