Probably the first challenge you’ll face in sleep training begins the moment you hand them over to someone else for the day.
I won't lie: combining sleep training with childcare can be challenging. You've fought through a few restless nights, refused to give up when your baby tested your patience and determination, and now that things are finally going well, you need to trust someone else to keep everything in order and maintain your baby’s healthy sleep habits.
Imagine yourself as Vincent Van Gogh, fresh off the completion of The Starry Night, and being told to hand over your paintbrush to a stranger who says, "I'll take it from here."
My artwork? All of this dedication and hard work? Entrusted to someone I don’t even know? No, right?
This is, nevertheless, fully doable and achievable. Sleep training and childcare can be complementary if you take the time to work with your childcare provider. In today’s blog post, we’ll cover some suggestions to make it as simple and conflict-free as possible.
Choosing your childcare provider
Here are a few sleep-centered considerations to bear in mind while choosing a childcare provider if you haven’t already. Bear in mind, that each of these isn't a deal-breaker on its own; they're just some things to think about.
Does the childcare put the babies to bed at a certain time?
Do they let the babies take their own naps or do they keep everyone together for a set amount of time?
Does the childcare sleep babies in a brightly lit room with a lot of other kids? Or is there a semi-private area where they can keep things dark?
Is it possible for you to bring your own white noise machine? Providing the same white noise machine that the baby is used to at home can be really beneficial and can help to drown out your baby’s cries so other children don’t wake up.
Is the childcare provider able to meet specific napping requests for your baby? (i.e Will they let your baby cry for a few minutes before supplying sleep props if you ask?)
Communicating with your baby’s caregiver
Assuming you've chosen a childcare provider or your baby is already in a place you like, here are a few talking points you can use to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal when it comes to sleep:
Tell your childcare provider that you've been working on your baby's sleep issues and where you're at.
Tell them how long you can tolerate your baby fussing. Unless otherwise told, most caregivers will take a no-crying approach.
Request that they refrain from using sleep props. Specify what you regard to be a sleep prop, e.g. pacifiers, rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, or any other ways your child has been reliant on to fall asleep.
If they’re hesitant about your requests, acknowledge this. Ask them what they’re willing to try out for a couple of days. An experiment is much less risky for them.
At all times, recognize the childcare’s limitations. When you voice out that you know they are responsible for a large number of children at once, that you know they have to follow some overarching safety guidelines, and that you don’t expect them to be able to meet all of your requests 100%, they will be more likely to meet you halfway and come up with a compromise that is mutually acceptable for both parties.
Above all, keep lines of communication open at all times. After all, sleep training is a journey and not an event- things are always changing because your child is constantly developing.
And when things get frustrating, remember that your childcare provider cares almost as much as you do about your child sleeping properly. A well-rested baby who naps without causing a fuss is a child care provider's dream come true.
A few final tips regarding sleep training
Start sleep training on a Friday night. The first few nights are often a roller coaster, and the baby will most likely be a little “off” for the first 48 hours. Try to get three or four nights (minimum) to a week (ideal) in before heading back to childcare.
It's fine if you have different timetables at home and at childcare. It's not the end of the world if their childcare sleep routine differs from their home schedule. If you can make it work, that's great, but it's not required.
Finally, babies are usually capable of distinguishing between different environments. Habits they learn at childcare won’t necessarily transfer over to sleep in the home, so if your childcare provider allows them a pacifier or rocks to sleep, don’t worry too much about it. Your baby should still be able to understand that what happens in school stays in school…provided you stick to your guns at home.
Overall, there's no reason why sleep training and childcare can't complement each other. But if you’re having some doubts and would like to speak with a sleep expert directly, book a discovery call with us!