Starting childcare – settling and sleep!
My background is in Early Childhood and prior to having my own daughter I managed a centre for many years. I always knew it was tough on those mums and children when starting in this scary new environment for the first time, but after experiencing it first hand with my own daughter it gave me a new-found respect for just how tough it really can be!
It is such a big step entrusting the care of your precious child in the hands of others all day long. You worry about if they are safe, if they will eat well, and of course how will their sleep be affected!
It is definitely a whole other ball game for many babies when entering a sleep environment which is foreign and unfamiliar to them. All of a sudden they are not alone in their cots and there is often many other babies in the sleep room at the same time. Hhhmmm what an excuse for a party!
I feel the best way you can equip your child for this change is to try and instil healthy sleep habits in them so they can take these skills with them when they start in the centre (or home-based care or with their nanny etc). This will really go a long way in preparing them for the new setting. If they have these self-settling and resettling skills they will be in a good position to very quickly settle and learn to sleep in this new environment.
It can be great to introduce a ‘lovey’ or ‘cuddly’ and send this along with them each day. Also ensuring they have their swaddle or sleeping bag can help too as they have something familiar and something which they associate with sleep.
Often their naps are going to be disturbed to begin with, so allow for earlier bedtimes and remembering that they will be super exhausted from all they have neem experiencing during the day.
Don’t forget, that this new adventure is often much harder on us parents than the child, and usually once they figure out we do return at the end of the day they don’t take long to settle in. Also just on that, my biggest tip when handing your child over to someone new (whether it be a teacher in a centre, or a nanny) would be to say goodbye. It is much better to do this as opposed to try and ‘sneak off’ when they are happy and distracted.
So in terms of sleep, do your best to give your babies and children the ability to learn how to self settle and resettle before exposing them into this new setting, and if you need help to do so before the big transition into care, you know who to contact!
Cherene Daley is a certified infant and child sleep consultant who is also an early childhood teacher and childcare specialist.
She works in Auckland running sleep talks and home consultations. You can reach her on
Call 021 0200 7636
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