I attend baby shows throughout the UK promoting the skill of sleep for young children. I am approached by parents all the time asking various questions. Recently I was approached by Catherine, she asked
“My 11 month old toddler not sleeping at nursery. He is there three times a week and is really miserable by the time I collect him at six o’clock. Should I just put him down early or should I wait for his normal bedtime?”
Well I have got three tips around that.
Tip number one
First find out why he’s not sleeping well at nursery. I find that a lot of people just bury their head in the sand around nursery or daycare and hope for the best. What I tell everyone to do when you’re interviewing is find out what do they do around naptime.
Are things scheduled? Do they have a quiet place to sleep? Or is it just, “Oh, if they fall asleep in the pram, fine,” and just going like that? You really need to investigate a little bit and find out if the situation is conducive to what you’ve created at home.
The second tip
Find out how they actually get your baby to fall asleep. Some nurseries are great and they’ll do whatever you tell them to do which, in my opinion, should be the way it is. You’re the boss here. You are the parent. You are paying the bill. They should be able to do what you want them to do.
If you come in really clear and say, “Listen, I put this baby down, awake, and he falls asleep on his own. All he needs is a quiet environment and a cot of his own and he’ll do great,” why wouldn’t they want that? That makes their job that much easier.
But some nurseries, for whatever reason, have certain policies in place where they don’t do that. They wrap the babies or they stroller ride them until they fall asleep and then transfer them.
You need to find out what’s going on to getting your baby to sleep in the first place. If it’s the total opposite of what you’ve worked really hard to create, you need to keep looking. Absolutely.
Tip number three
Some babies, they just don’t sleep as well when they’re out or at nursery or whatever the situation is. None of us do, really. We all sleep better in our own beds, so that makes sense to me.
If you find that they do what you ask and they try really hard and he doesn’t quite sleep as well, if he’s grumpy by six o’clock, then absolutely put him down early. I always say there is no reason why you need to live with a grumpy, tired child to hang on to some magical bedtime that you’ve created in your mind. Six o’clock, you can have him, do the routine. Get him down through 6:30, and that would be fine.
Because he’s not going to nursery every day, then on the days he’s home with you and sleeping great, it’s no problem to hang on to your normal bedtime. We do want the body clock to get in line with a consistent bedtime; but there is wiggle room around that. It’s not set in stone.