top of page

Hey, hey!

I'm Michele DiSpirito

I've been where you are.

Tired. No. Exhausted! Frustrated and confused as to what to do with an adorable little one that just. won't. sleep.

I'm a mom to three boys ages 6 and under, wife to Kyle for 17 years, and all about getting some good sleep for us all! While struggling to make sleep consistent and a reality with my oldest, I scoured the internet for answers and was left more frustrated and confused than when I started. I wanted a clear path; someone I trusted to just tell me what to do, how to do it, and when. What I wanted was what I'm here to be for you today - a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.

find me on

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

Part 1 - Daycare Naps: Expectation & Communication

Whether you’re on the hunt for a daycare or you’ve found the one just right for your family, this three-part series is here to help your little one nap well wherever they stay during the day. Choosing the right daycare is a personal decision and not one that these posts are here to influence. The tips in these posts will give you the confidence you need to help your child get the best sleep possible wherever they are.

In this first post, we talk about: what to expect from your child and the daycare in regards to naps, how to talk to the daycare teachers, and some specific ideas of what to ask them.

(Here are the links to Part 2 and Part 3 of this Daycare Naps series.)

Let me preface this...

But, first, let me preface this by saying, these tips won’t work if your child isn’t already an independent sleeper at home. Some (probably most) daycare providers will cater to the desires of the child by holding them for naps, rocking them to sleep, or consistently replacing a pacifier. But, if that’s not your desire or that’s not an option at your chosen daycare - setting that foundation of independent sleep at home first is crucial. This can be done in conjunction with attending daycare, too.

If you need help in making that happen, let’s chat about how we can work together!

What to expect from your child

Especially if your child is a wonderful sleeper at home, there can be so much anxiety about “messing that up” or not being able to perfectly replicate their sleep environment at daycare (or a little of both, among other things).

No matter when your child starts going to daycare, how well they sleep at home, or what their daycare sleep space looks like, there’s going to be an adjustment period of about a month. (But, you’re not “messing anything up”!)

So, be prepared for short naps at daycare, sleepy (ie. cranky) evenings, early bedtimes, and catnaps initially. (More specifically about sleep in the next post.)

Transitions are hard! (But, you and your child can do hard things!)

What to expect from the daycare

Safety always trumps sleep - at home and at daycare. However, safety looks different in each space. Being responsible for more children in a single space requires different guidelines. Unfortunately, some of those guidelines aren’t ideal for a sleep environment.

BUT, don’t fret! We can make it work!

Typically, daycares cannot allow for a pitch-black sleep space because the teachers need to be able to see the children they’re watching. Most teachers are trained to watch the rise and fall of the sleeping child’s chest and to notice any subtle signs of distress. Those would go undetected if the child can’t be seen.

It’s also rare that daycare centers have individual rooms for each sleeping child. The napping children typically share one large sleeping space. In many cases it’s the same space they play in - they just lower the lights, pull out the cots, and call it good. If your child is attending an in-home daycare, there’s a greater chance for flexibility. There it may be suitable for your child to sleep in a pitch-black space with a baby monitor.

Talking to the daycare provider

Know that though you’re your child’s advocate when you’re talking with the teachers, you’re on the same team. Your child’s daycare teachers want them to have great naps, too! (It truly benefits everybody when children sleep well!!)

Before giving any suggestions, ask the director how sleep is handled for your child’s age. Coming from a place of curiosity is typically well-received and you may find that what you desire is already being done.

Here are a few questions you can ask to get the ball rolling:

  • How do they handle nap time? Are there set nap times or do the teachers follow sleep cues only?

  • Is there a separate sleeping area or do they pull cribs, cots, or mats out to the main area?

  • Is anything else going on during nap time? Are the teachers pacing the room? Are some kids awake and playing?

  • What’s the sleep environment like? How dark is it? Do they use a sound machine or play music?

  • How do they handle children that don’t sleep at all or wake up early?

  • How do they handle children that sleep longer than the allotted nap time?

Once you get the feel for how nap time goes, if there’s anything you’d like to see differently, ask.

  • If nap time is different from your child’s typical nap time or the daycare follows sleep cues only - let them know what works best for your child and ask if they would follow your child’s schedule or appropriate wake windows. Is there a separate classroom that follows your child’s nap schedule more closely? Could they nap with them?

  • If you find a spot you feel your child would be most comfortable sleeping in, ask if your child can sleep there.

  • If there’s typically a lot of commotion during nap time, ask if your child can be observed from a distance that’s still suitable for observation, but will less likely disturb their sleep.

  • Odds are the sleep environment won’t be pitch black due to safety reasons, but ask that they make it as dark as possible. If you’re using an in-home daycare and the sleep space isn’t ideal, ask if you can bring a baby monitor, pack and play, and SlumberPod. (You’re welcome to ask this at a daycare center, too! But, I don’t think it’ll be as easily accommodated. (Use code GOODNIGHTFAMILIES20 for $20 off your SlumberPod purchase.))

  • If they don’t use a sound machine or they play music, ask if you can bring a portable sound machine to place near your child.

  • Are you permitted to bring jammies, a sleep sack, lovey, or a blanket? Some daycares don’t permit anything in the cribs for safety reasons. If your child is used to having a lovey or blanket, I recommend the Bitta Kidda. It’s a sleep sack with built-in loveys. (Genius!) affiliate link

Though some (or all) of their answers may be, “No”, that’s ok! You asked and that’s all you can do! (Unless there is more you can do and you feel you should, then do that.)

In Conclusion

Finding a place that listens to your concerns, is your ally, and wants what’s best for your child without sacrificing the appropriate safety measures they must abide by is hard work. It’s a big decision and the fear of poor sleep shouldn’t be in the way of that.

Sleep is only one piece of the puzzle and I got you covered.

Next week in Part 2, I’ll share ways to improve naps at daycare and how to handle sleep when naps are not so satisfactory.


bottom of page