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How to Manage Short Naps When Your Child Is In Daycare

By: Sarah Bossio, Certified Pediatric Sleep Expert

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Having a child in daycare can be tricky. It can be hard leaving your baby in the care of someone else. Although you have vetted them, you trust them, you love them, and, hey, you like being back at work, it can still be really difficult. There are many conflicting emotions!

To top it all off, when you get that report from daycare and learn that their naps have been short, your heart just sinks.

You think, "Oh no, what is my night going to look like?"

Today I want to talk to you about daycare naps and how we can make sure they don't affect your child's nighttime sleep.

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Maintaining Your Child's Sleep Schedule with Short Daycare Naps

Many of my families have children in alternate childcare situations, so this is something I come across all the time. I want to assure you that your baby is going to be just fine at daycare. If anything, they’re going to be thriving! So let's focus instead on working through those short daycare naps.

What Is Considered a Short Nap?

3 Nap Schedule

When your child is on a three-nap schedule, anything less than an hour is considered too short.

2 Nap Schedule

When your child is on a two-nap schedule, at least one of those naps should be an hour and a half, and the other should be at least an hour.

1 Nap Schedule

When your child is on one nap, that nap should be an hour and a half or longer.

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Creating a Flexible Sleeper

In an ideal world, we would be able to give our sleep schedules to our daycare providers, and they would follow them to a tee. Your baby wouldn’t be bothered by any environmental surroundings and would be sleeping great. But that’s not always possible, and it’s okay. Being at daycare can create a flexible sleeper.

Provide Daycare with Your Child's Sleep Schedule

You can provide daycare with your child's sleep schedule and ask them to make sure that your baby is napping at the times you know they nap best. Then, take a deep breath and remember that children do this all the time. They thrive and still sleep just fine during the night, even when daycares aren’t able to follow the schedule!

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Troubleshooting Short Nap Days

Early Bedtime Solution

If your baby or toddler comes home from daycare and you realize they had a really short nap day, the best solution is an early bedtime.

Bedtime is variable. Your family's bedtime will look different than your neighbor's bedtime. However, on a short nap day, it's really helpful if you can get your child into bed at least 30 minutes earlier than usual. If they’ve taken very short naps, or even skipped naps throughout the day, try to get them to bed 60 minutes early to make up for that daytime sleep loss.

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Teaching Independent Sleep Skills

Independent Sleep Encourages Longer Naps

The best way to make sure your child’s naps are consistently long at daycare is to ensure they fall asleep independently. Independent sleep skills make it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep during sleep cycle transitions and ignore environmental sounds that might disturb their sleep and cause short naps.

Sleep Training Is Key for Independent Sleep

To teach your child to sleep independently, sleep training is essential. I have several videos on different methods I use when working one-on-one with families. The most popular methods are timed checks and the Ferber method, and these work great for children from 4 months up to 8 years old.

Personalized Sleep Plans

For more detailed information and a more specific, personalized plan catered to your family's individual needs, I'd love to chat with you and assess your sleep situation. We can see if we are a good fit to work together to get your sleep on track. The best way to get in touch with me is by clicking here to book a free 15-minute discovery call.

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Have questions about daycare naps or sleep training?

If you found this information helpful, or you'd like to learn more, I would love to know! Drop a comment or send me an email and let's chat.

Also, be sure to check out and subscribe to my Youtube channel, where I release sleep topic videos once a week about toddlers, babies, big kids and newborns.

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My blog is a library of free resources available for you to use anytime, so give it a bookmark to keep handy.

I also host a weekly Q&A on my Instagram. Tune in or DM me there!

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Curious about sleep training? Take a look at my sleep training packages and book a free discovery call with me. Together, we'll talk through your child's sleep challenges and I'll tell you how I can help.

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Pediatric Sleep Expert Sarah Bossio sits on fun wicker chair with arms wide smiling

May your coffee be warm,


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Sarah is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Expert based in the NY/NJ Tri-State area and has helped over 400 families worldwide get their sleep back on track.

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