Today's blog is a common question I get from parents. "My 10-month-old does not take good naps at the babysitter's three times a week and is super crabby by the time six o'clock rolls around. Should I just put him down early or should I wait for his normal bedtime?"
It's a great question and can be confusing to know what to do. I've got three tips around that.
Tip number one would be to first find out why he's not sleeping well at daycare. I find that a lot of people just bury their head in the sand around daycare and hope for the best. What I tell everyone to do when you're interviewing is find out what do they do around nap time. Are things scheduled? Do they have a quiet place to sleep? Or is it just, "Oh, if they fall asleep in the stroller, fine," and just going like that? You really need to investigate a little bit and find out if the situation is conducive to what you've created at home.
The second tip would be to find out how they actually get your baby to fall asleep. Some daycares are great and they'll do whatever you tell them to do which, in my opinion, should be the way it is. You're the boss here. You are the parent. You are paying the bill. They should be able to do what you want them to do. If you come in really clear and say, "Listen, I put this baby down, awake, and he falls asleep on his own. All he needs is a quiet environment and a crib of his own and he'll do great," why wouldn't they want that? That makes their job that much easier.
But some daycares, for whatever reason, have certain policies in place where they don't do that. They wrap the babies or they stroller ride them until they fall asleep and then transfer them. Or I've even heard some leave the child until they're basically passed out on the floor before they put them down for a nap. You need to find out what's going on when getting your baby to sleep in the first place. If it's the total opposite of what you've worked really hard to create, you need to keep looking. Absolutely.
Tip number three around this is, for some babies, they just don't sleep as well when they're out or at daycare or whatever the situation is. None of us do, really. We all sleep better in our own beds, so that makes sense to me. If you find that they do what you ask and they try really hard and he doesn't quite sleep as well, if he's grumpy by six o'clock, then absolutely put him down early. I always say there is no reason why you need to live with a grumpy, tired child to hang on to some magical bedtime that you've created in your mind.
Because he's not going to daycare every day, then on the days he's home with you and sleeping great, it's no problem to hang on to your normal bedtime. We do want the body clock to get in line with a consistent bedtime, but there is wiggle room around that. It's not set in stone.