Preparing your child for a new daycare is often a stressful process for parents. Your child will be in a new environment, with unfamiliar caregivers, and subject to a different schedule than at home. You probably have a whole host of questions about the experience, from the food your child will eat, to the curriculum, to how the daycare manages safety. Many parents are also concerned about their child’s ability to nap at daycare. Will the daycare create a sleep environment conducive to sleep, or will your child come home grumpy and overtired at the end of the day?
You aren’t alone. Over 11 million children under the age of five attend daycare and childcare centers in the U.S. and have to learn to nap away from home. But with some preparation and by asking the right questions, many parents are able to successfully help their children nap at daycare. We’ll walk you through some best practices to ensure that your child has a smooth sleep transition and provide some guidance on how to best prepare your child for daycare napping.
Why is Daycare Nap Time Important?
We’ve all heard that sleep is important for our overall health, but we may not understand why napping is so beneficial for young children. Naps not only reduce over-tired behavior and crankiness, but some studies suggest that napping decreases anxiety and improves problem-solving abilities. Naps provide young children (and caregivers) a much-needed break during the day and may even help children sleep better at night.
How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?
While there are exceptions to every rule, most kids under the age of 5 benefit from a nap. Babies need at least two naps and may sleep for over two hours, while older children sleep for at least 30 minutes during the day.
You may also notice your child transitioning from several to just one nap, or wanting to sleep for less time overall. Children eventually stop napping altogether. During these transitional times, it’s especially valuable to understand how much sleep your child needs.
While sleep is highly individualized, these sleep guidelines are a helpful first step in understanding the sleep needs of your child: