• Images by a wonderful local photographer susannaguinnphotography

    Here at First Place promoting good nap routines is an important part of an early years practitioner’s role. Naps are vital for children in the early years as they allow them to recharge in order to continue throughout the day.
    This is why we have partnered with the Happy Sleep Coach, Jenni (a certified sleep consultant based in Hertfordshire) so that we can work together to achieve the best sleep for your child while they are at nursery.
    Below Jenni covers what to think about when starting a childcare setting and how to work in partnership to ensure the best sleep for your little one. Plus, she shares some top tips for home.
    I love sleep!! …. Seriously I love sleep…..That feeling as you climb into bed knowing you’ve got 8 hours+ before you have to get up. As parents we rarely get that feeling now. The night time dread hits us as the evening sets in…
    – How many times are they going to wake tonight?
    – What is the best thing to do if they wake?
    – Will I ever sleep through the night again?
    And even when they are quiet and asleep you constantly check the baby monitor or lie awake thinking, “they’ll wake soon” Therefore, handing over the control of our little ones sleep to a childcare professional can feel daunting and, understandably, as a parent it is one of our main worries when choosing a childcare setting.

    When starting a childcare setting it is important you are clear in communicating what your child’s sleep needs looks like, how many naps you ideally want your little one to have and how long for but also being realistic with regards to what the nursery can offer. Remember to ask them questions such as ‘are there set times for naps or are you flexible.’

    Detail how best to get your little ones to nap, whether you rock, hold or feed to sleep so the staff can mirror this. It is often the case that they get into their own routine at nursery and actually settle better for the nursery staff than they do you at home.

    The first few weeks are always going to be ‘shaky’ and any nap achieved is a bonus. Take this into account and make sure you get your little ones to bed as early as possible to compensate any sleep lost during the day. As they get more comfortable with the nursery setting and the staff learn more about your child, they will begin to nap better. An early night (6pm, or as close to) is always your safety blanket/fall back.

    If they haven’t napped well during the week at nursery, spend the days they are at home focussing on getting sleep back on track and filling up their sleep tank for the week ahead.

    Other things to remember/think about:
    • Bring all the comfort bits your little one might want at nap time – Sleeping bags, comforters etc.
    • Ask to look at the sleep setting when looking around the nursery and talk about how this fits in with your little ones current sleep habits.
    • If the nursery does have set nap times and your child attends most days, it might be useful to adjust your home schedule to line up with the nursery.
    • Sleep is so important, not only for your children, but also for you as a parent. Sleep deprivation can cause all sorts of issues from depression, anxiety, weight gain, loss of concentration. In children it can affect their cognitive and physical development and is often a cause of behavioural issues.
    • Sleep encourages sleep, the better your little one naps in the day, the better they sleep at night. The better they sleep at night, the better they will nap in the day. Overtiredness can affect a baby/toddler not only settling for a nap but also the ability to stay asleep.
    There are some simple small changes we can make at home to help our little ones sleep more soundly….
    Here are my top tips:

    Creating an environment that helps to promote sleep is really important. Temperature, noise and light can all play a huge part in night-time waking and early rising.

    Make sure your little ones are dressed appropriately for the temperature in the room. Room thermometers, or baby monitors that also do temperature are a great purchase so you can accurately gauge room temperature. The ideal room temperature for a baby’s bedroom is between 16-20 degrees. Sleeping bags are great as they can’t kick them off in the night, keeping them at a more constant temperature throughout the night.

    If noise cannot be avoided (such as road noise/siblings) then you can consider playing white noise to help drown out any sudden noise disturbances. The white noise needs to be constant and played all night. You can buy machines that play white noise or put it on a loop on an iPad/phone. Toys that come on for 30 minute periods when they sense noise/movement can often cause a child to wake further from their sleep then actually settling them.

    Light can a problem especially during those summer months when the sun rises early and doesn’t set until 9 or 10pm at night. The room should be as dark as possible! Light is a huge stimulant and can be a cause of both early rising and not settling at bedtime. I really recommend stick on black out blinds to completely cover your windows. Melatonin, the sleepy hormone is only produced in the dark.

    Babies under the age of 2.5/3 years of age don’t know ‘fear’ in the sense of fear of the dark, so you do not need to leave nightlights on/hall lights on. If you feel it is necessary then a red/amber light is best as blue/white light is a stimulant for infants and adults alike.

    Bedtime Routine
    Children thrive on routine, they learn through repetition which is why a bedtime routine is so important and beneficial when it comes to sleep.

    Having a routine, doing the same things in the same order each night means that your little ones know what’s coming and nap time/bedtime doesn’t come as a surprise. It sets clear boundaries of what is and isn’t appropriate at that time and helps them to feel secure.

    You can start a routine right from birth, keeping this nice and short. Then as they get a little older the routine should be about 30 – 40minutes long. Keeping a calm environment with low lighting really helps to build up melatonin (the sleepy hormone) which will aid sleep onset.

    Consistency is key! Especially with regards to our response in the night, if, and when our little ones wake. The more you change your response the more confused they get. Have an in the night plan, write down your intended actions. Have an initial action that you will do as you enter the room, what you will escalates to after 30 minutes, 1 hour etc.

    Obviously your little ones needs come first, if they need a nappy change or whatever you might need to deviate but have a general idea of what you do. We often get flustered in the night and just start trying whatever we can to get them to sleep and often it’s not helpful as it can stimulate them. Also having a clear plan means there is consistency between both parents response.

    Wake windows
    Sleep encourages sleep! A day of good naps will mean a better night’s sleep. Make sure you know how much sleep your little one should be getting for their age and make sure their ‘wake windows’ (how long they are awake between naps) aren’t too long.

    Night Waking and Early Rising
    The main cause of night waking and early rising is over tiredness. If your little one is doing either of these then make sure they are getting enough day time sleep for their age and at the right times of the day. If naps are short or they are awake for too long in the afternoon then consider bringing bedtime forward as early as 6pm. This will not affect the time they wake up in the morning.

    Want more support with your child’s sleep routine?

    If you would like to learn more about sleep and have guidance on how you can approach achieving a predictable routine and well-rested night’s sleep for your child then please get in touch with our partnered sleep coach for a free 15 minute initial consultation.
    The Happy Sleep Coach offers 10% off her packages for all parents at First Place Nurseries.
    Please enquire at – happysleepcoach@outlook.com
    We can work with you and the Happy Sleep Coach to ensure we are doing everything during the day at nursery to support your plan.

    Get in touch with the Happy Sleep Coach