Top tips for managing sleep at nursery
Published: 28th of September 2020
This month we have a guest blog from the lovely Jenna Wilson from Little Dreams Sleep Consulting with their top tips on managing sleep when starting or returning to nursery. I know this was something that I was anxious about when I returned to work and again after lockdown so I hope there are lots of helpful points here to help you.......
So we’re nearing the end of September – which, for lots of little ones, means the end of their first month at nursery or pre-school. Whether they’re returning after lockdown or going for the first time, starting nursery or pre-school is a big adjustment and can result in some very overtired little ones!
It is very normal for even the best sleepers to regress when they first start going to a day care setting. For those still napping, it can be tricky for them to switch off in a new environment where it may be noisier, or lighter than they’re used to – imagine trying to go to sleep in a room with lots of other people – it would take a little getting used to! The level of stimulation and constant ‘busyess’ can cause an excess of adrenaline by the end of the day, which can lead to some bedtime battles…
We’ve put together some of our top tips for helping your child to adjust to their new routine and environment to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible:
Ease them in gently:
Try to start them off slowly – maybe just a few days a week to begin with. Perhaps drop them off a little later than you plan to eventually or pick them up a little earlier. As parents we tend to take things slowly when we return to work after a prolonged time off (maternity leave for example), and it’s important we make the same allowances for our little ones. Making their days shorter initially will help them to adjust and curb any overtiredness whilst they settle in.
If naps are short at nursery (or non-existent in some rarer cases) ensure your little one goes to bed early – anything from 6pm is fine. This gives them the opportunity to catch up on any missed day time sleep and again – will help them to deal with the excitement of the day whilst they adjust to their new routine.
Talk to your nursery setting:
- Discuss your child’s sleep needs with their key worker. Explain their daily nap routine (obviously there will need so be some leeway in this when they start nursery, however it’s still important your little one is given the opportunity to nap around the same time they usually would).
- It may also be worth considering phoning your nursery after lunch for the first few days to check how the nap/s went, and pick your little one up earlier if needs be in order to compensate for any short/non naps!
- It’s also a good idea to ask to see the area that children nap in within the setting – check it for noise levels and darkness. If you feel your little one may struggle with the environment, talk to the staff about your concerns – you could even suggest a blackout blind or a white noise machine.
Take something familiar:
If your child has a favourite teddy or a comforter, let them take it to nursery so that they have something they usually associate with sleep. It’s always worth buying a ‘spare’ though in case one gets lost/left at nursery – we say this from experience!
Finally, even if your little one takes some time to settle into their new routine, try not to compensate for this by ‘helping’ too much when it comes to sleep. If they are usually able to put themselves to sleep then still allow them to do this. Ensure the nursery are on board with this too, and that new ‘sleep props’ aren’t introduced in an effort to get them to sleep.
If your child struggles to get themselves to sleep in general, or if they are experiencing a regression in their sleep following starting nursery which isn’t getting better after a month or so, then please do get in touch – we would love to help.
Photo by Tara Raye on Unsplash