Back to Work: Questions for Your Childcare Provider - Sleephaven Sleep Consultation: Helping Tired Families Sleep

One of the hardest decisions you may ever have to make as a parent is who will care for your child should you plan to return to work outside of the home. Undoubtedly, you will ask questions about certification and licensing, staff training, staff-to-child ratios and childcare costs. With your tour of the daycare or day home facility, you will take note of how clean, engaging and welcoming it is, and how staff respond to children. You may decide to check out the menus and observe playtime or an activity circle. You’ve made a great start!

One of the discussion areas that is often overlooked is sleep. And yet, your childcare provider’s policies around naps will have a profound impact on your child’s sleep patterns (and yours!) at night. We know that your little one will be exposed to more illness as he comes into regular contact with other children, and guarding his sleep intake means that he will be able to fight off infections more successfully. Recognizing the importance of sleep, here are some questions to add to your interview list:

• Are staff educated about children’s sleep needs?
• How are sleeping children monitored?
• Are routines flexible enough to allow for 2 naps/ day for children who are younger than 18 months and need more sleep?
• Will your child be sleeping in a crib or on a mat? How often are sheets/ blankets/ sleep surfaces cleaned?
• When do naps start and end? Is there flexibility to allow for longer naps?
• Is the sleep space dark? Are white noise or calming music part of the sleep routine?
• Are staff willing to help your child to sleep and back to sleep if he wakes early? Is there a specific staff person who will be assigned to support him during nap times?
• How do staff deal with an early nap riser? Do they have a separate play space he can move to so that other sleeping children are not disturbed?
• What calming strategies will staff use to calm your child when he is upset?
• How does the facility work in partnership with parents?
• How are you informed about your child’s day, his progress and his challenges?

While there is no substitute for your loving care, you can ensure that child care providers are well equipped with education about your child’s sleep needs and support a commitment to excellence. I would be happy to provide a low-cost sleep seminar to staff and families in your child’s facility – I encourage you to request one today!

Margot Byer
Sleephaven Sleep Consultation
Helping Tired Families Sleep
… in Edmonton, Alberta and Beyond!