Time to go back to work already?! In Canada, we are fortunate to be able to stay home with our children for a full year. I know that I certainly felt privileged to be on maternity leave with both of my children during that time. There are many changes happening to babies that first year, including teething, transitioning to solid food and improving sleep.
After the first six months have passed, or perhaps even before, parents will begin planning to take their baby to a place for child care while they themselves prepare to head back to work. The transition to daycare is always a busy time of juggling new morning and evening schedules, getting back into the groove of going to work and adjusting your little one to a new environment at a daycare. Most of my clients have LOTS of questions once sleep is on track about what that means when daycare starts, so to help put your mind at ease, I am going to share my top tips for dealing with the change and keeping your little ones rested.
Pick a daycare that is good fit for your child and your family. Ask any questions and raise any concerns that you have and make sure that the answers align with what is important to you for your child. A couple of important things to consider when it comes to choosing a daycare:
- It is a good idea to interview a few places and decide which is the best fit for you and your child. Getting referrals from other families, going to visit in-person during daycare hours, asking about sleep and daily schedules, how they handle emergency situations, etc. will provide information that you will want to know!
- Parents are often concerned about transitioning their child to one nap in order to follow the schedule at daycare. If your child is around one year of age, he will typically adjust well to the new routines with the other children and will be fine with moving to one nap a day. However, the nap will need to begin much earlier, so ensure that the daycare is willing to schedule the nap to begin at 11:30 a.m. so that your child is not overtired. Some babies still need two naps a day to be rested so it really needs to be discussed ahead of time.
Bring a lovey.
Lovies are wonderful transitional items to help children deal with normal separation anxiety that they begin to experience during this time.
- Some children will cling to a lovey or if they have not attached themselves to one already, parents can choose a lovey for them prior to beginning daycare. Giving the lovey to children at sleep times (if they are old enough; ask your pediatrician or doctor), when they are visiting grandparents or having play dates will allow them to form an attachment.
- A lovey can be a stuffed animal, doll, blanket or even a shirt worn by mom or dad – the scent of mom/dad is so helpful.
- Make sure that the lovey is safe and free of ribbons, buttons and small plastic parts that are possible choking hazards.
- Remember to buy two! Lovies often get lost so it is always a great idea to have a back-up that is “well loved” and used just as often.
Begin new daycare routine early.
Families should practice getting up at the same time that they need to for work a few days or a week prior to taking children to daycare. This will help parents and children align with the new schedule and ease everyone into the new routine beforehand, making it less tiring and stressful for everyone on the first day of daycare and back to work. If parents are planning to transition children to one nap a day, it will be important to transition them at least the week before, allowing their bodies some time to adjust.
It is also helpful to plan new routines for the weekdays during this time so that mornings run as smoothly as possible. Packing the daycare bag the night before, scheduling time to eat breakfast, planning clothes (yours and baby’s) the night before and having 10 minutes of free time to deal with unpredictable situations that might come up in the morning, or just to have a few minutes to be with your child before drop-off, are also helpful.
Move bedtime earlier.
A child will be tired from being in a new space, meeting new people and having busier days in general (ie. getting out the door, dressed and eating breakfast is a tighter schedule than before). An earlier bedtime of 30 minutes to 1 hour will be necessary for everyone at first. After the first 3 weeks to a month, bedtime can be moved closer to the normal time again.
If you are looking for more sleep tips to help your child sleep well before going to daycare, you can schedule a free 15-minute call or check out the upcoming More Sleep For Baby online workshop coming up Friday, April 7 (limited to 4 families).
The snow is on its way out (hopefully!) and perhaps you are planning a family getaway! Feeling a bit nervous about it all? I get it. We are planning two days away with our two and five year-olds and I can’t wait, but there are a few things that I know need to be in place so that we can all enjoy our time away and keep our patience in tact. Here are my top tips to keep you covered for enjoying your spring time vacation!
Plan, plan, plan!
Part of getting away for vacation is about being flexible, taking a break and having fun. In order to do so, you must plan ahead. If you have a baby, a toddler or pre-schooler this is especially true. Here are some important items that will help make planning easier!
- Make a list. Write out a checklist of what you absolutely need to bring and check each item off as it goes into a suitcase. Bring your list with you so that you can have peace of mind by knowing that each item has been packed before heading back home. This will keep you from forgetting your iPad and preventing a melt down with a stuffy that gets left behind.
- Travelling by plane? Make sure that you have everything you need to feed your baby, plenty of diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes just in case. Try to condense it enough so that you can store it under the seat in front of you and avoid going into the overhead compartment which can be tricky.
- Taking a road trip? A DVD player or child’s favourite story book can be helpful if you are going to be travelling by car with a child between the ages of two and five years old.
- Healthy snacks. Prepare to have plenty of good healthy snacks on hand, such as homemade trail mix, sandwiches, muffins or your child’s favourite fruit to avoid buying sugar filled or fried food options at the airport or highway stops.
Keep in mind that the odd missed nap or later than usual bedtime isn’t the end of the world, but you do want to schedule important outings ahead of time so that your little one does not miss out on quality sleep each day and night. Otherwise, the overtiredness will be sure to show up at some point, which is not fun for you or your child.
- Travel days will be travel days, so just do the best that you can until you arrive at your destination. If you are going on a plane, the goal is for you and your little one to be comfortable until you arrive – if he decides to take a nap and it isn’t his usual nap time – don’t sweat it. Then, once you reach your destination, follow your child’s nap times and bedtimes as usual.
- Separate sleeping space. Just a few nights of sharing a bed with your child when he is not used to sleeping with you can lead to a habit that might become challenging to break once you get back home. Hotels usually have cribs available if you ask, or you can bring a pack and play if you are staying at a friend or family member’s home. Plan for a room with a bed for an older child or purchase a travel bed for toddlers/pre-schoolers if you travel a lot.
Make sure to have other important key sleep items on hand:
- A favourite lovey or blanket;
- Sleep sack for babies – Halo has a variety of fabrics and sizes – www.halosleep.com;
- Sound machine to create a familiar background sound and block any noise while baby sleeps; and/or
- Gro blinds to keep the room nice and dark during sleep times.
If you are travelling to a new time zone, the best thing to do is try and get in line with the new time as quickly as possible. Use sunlight to help keep your child awake and darkness to increase melatonin (sleepy hormone). Both are incredibly helpful strategies for resetting your body’s internal clock. The regular daily routines of meal times, bedtime routines, etc. are extremely helpful in cuing your child’s mind and body for what comes next. For example, if nap time happens right after lunch, following this same routine will help your child adjust very quickly to the new time.
Vacations can happen few and far between during the course of the year. Remember to have a wonderful time away with the most important people in your life!
Still need help with getting more sleep for your family? Check out my upcoming online workshop More Sleep For Baby that will have your baby and you sleeping soon!