Napping Outside The Home
With the return to childcare after lockdowns or after a period of being looked after by family members, this transition can affect your little one’s naps and, therefore, sleep routine. The main concern on this topic that I hear from parents is “I don’t want to have to be at home every day for the lunchtime nap” or “I want flexibility”.
I believe that having a routine makes a child more flexible, rather than less flexible!
If a baby knows how to nap well at home, I believe that it makes it easier for them to sleep when out and about. The first reason for this is that they have a mini-wind down routine to falling asleep that they recognise – whether it’s for a nap or bedtime. This routine only needs to be 5-10 minutes and it is what happens just before they fall asleep. If you have done my sleep courses, you’ll know that setting up those positive sleep habits becomes your mini-routine before baby falls asleep. This might look like: they’ve had their feed / lunch, you go into their bedroom, pop on their sleeping bag, read them a quick story, a song and then your sleep sentence “night night boys, sleep time now” is mine. They go into their cots and, depending on their age, they can have a comforter. Then you leave them to fall asleep.
What this pre-nap and pre-bedtime routine does is it builds their confidence because they know what’s coming next. This is a clear boundary for them and so they expect sleep is coming. Once they know this, they’ll feel confident falling asleep wherever they are. So, if you’re looking at a child who is sleeping outside the home, it is really helpful if you can recreate this mini-routine in a new environment. They’ll feel much more settled and, therefore, more comfortable to nod off.
Set up a mini-bedtime routine so that they can recognise the start of sleep time.
Recreate the same environment for bedtime that your little one has at home, such as white noise or black-out blinds.
Consider how your child falls asleep independently on their own, also known as ‘self-settling’.
Make the most of your childcare’s settling-in services and build up to it again, including nap time.
Take their comforter / muslin / cot sheet / story book / sleeping bag with them so that their sleep environment is familiar to them, to trigger their brain into feeling confident into falling asleep.
These tips can be used at nursery, childcare settings or even at grandparents’. If your childcare setting uses slightly different approaches to your routine at home, I would say that it doesn’t mean that all your good routine and sleep-setting has been unravelled! Babies respond and behave differently to different people and, if Grandma pushes baby in the pram to sleep but you know they could sleep in a cot, it doesn’t mean that your routine will go backwards at home. Don’t worry too much – babies learn different routines with different people so as long as you are consistent with your boundaries and routines at home children will still stick to them.
If you would like more support with your little one’s routines, do take a peek at my online shop where you can purchase and download routines that suit different ages of your child’s development.