Avery and I start the daycare transition in 7 days. I am equal parts anxious and heartbroken, and excited for her to make friends and gain new experiences. Our daycare provider, whom I will herein refer to as Gwen, asked me to give her a list of Avery’s favourite foods and foods she doesn’t like, as well as tips for making her happy or comforted. Guess I can’t put “me” on the comfort list.
Although I didn’t plan to be, I have been a bit of an Attachment Parent. I nurse Avery to sleep, and she naps on me for most naps. She has never been laid down in her crib and gone to sleep of her own accord. We have tried, but it’s not in her skill toolbox yet. So this makes me feel anxious as we prepare to put her in daycare. Please excuse my ramblings as I work out my worries in this post.
Let me back up a bit and give an update about night time sleep and nap transitions.
Avery has been showing us lately that she can put herself back to sleep when she wakes through the night, but nighttime sleep has still been a bit of a roller-coaster. Some nights she wakes every 20 minutes and bed shares for the second half of the night, and other nights she goes 7 hours alone in her crib. Sleep development is not linear, but big picture I see definite improvements. As for naps, I think she is trying to transition to one nap a day. She will often be chipper and awake until 11am, and then sleep soundly for 2 or 3 hours. With one nap a day, bedtime is a BREEZE. However, some days she is tired and cranky at 8:30am, and on those days we stick to two naps, which makes bedtime tougher because she’s just not quite tired enough. It’s a complicated phase that requires flexibility and being really in tune with her sleep needs on a day-to-day basis.
So how does this impact our daycare prep? Back when I was interviewing daycares, I was adamant that they offer us two naps a day. I figured that because most babies aren’t ready to go down to one nap until 15-18 months, that my high sleep needs baby definitely wouldn’t be ready for one. Our provider (Gwen) agreed to accommodate, because she will only have two kids in her care for now, and they will both be 12 months. It was really great to ease my mind back when we were searching for a daycare, but now I’m thinking that the nap schedule just won’t work for us. In order to squeeze two naps into the short day before Gwen’s after-school kids arrive (and babies get picked up), naps are scheduled for 10-11, and 1-2:30. There is no way Avery will go to sleep 2 hours after waking. Not a chance.
So for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to transition Avery to a 10am nap, and I have also been working on getting her to sleep for her nap without nursing. The 10am nap time works well most of the time, but some days she refuses completely and has one afternoon nap instead. I can only hope that Gwen will work with Avery’s day-to-day needs by helping her get to sleep with rocking if she’s emotional from being tired, or by letting her play quietly while the other baby naps if she is just too awake to sleep.
As for the afternoon nap being too early, we are accommodating this by having me pick her up at 1pm for the first few months, until both babies are ready for one nap. However, I’m sure she will go at least the first month being too stressed to sleep during the morning nap, and will need an earlier afternoon nap. The daycare transition will probably make her tired enough to put a hold on the nap transition.
Now on to my concern about GETTING AVERY TO SLEEP. Like most daycare providers, Gwen plans to put the babies in cribs, turn off the light, and let them go to sleep. One does not simply let my baby fall asleep. One actively assists my baby in falling asleep. I have been successful in cutting out the nurse to nap (although I passionately believe in continuing to nurse to sleep at night), but I’ve had to replace it with another sleep crutch – walking in the stroller. On the days we have one nap instead of two, it’s remarkably easier to get her to sleep. A few minutes of rocking will get her out cold, and I can even put her down to carry out the rest of her nap alone. I guess all I can do to help her get to sleep at daycare is to ask Gwen to offer her a bit of rocking, to wait until she is truly tired and otherwise let her play quietly, and to cross my fingers and pray and send positive vibes to her throughout the day and really just let it be. I’ve heard that babies will adapt to new routines with new people, and Avery has shown lots of signs that she is adaptable (in new situations, at least, but not really with new people…).
So there’s my plan for getting through the awkward adjustment phase of Avery’s sleep at daycare. I’m super nervous, but I think/hope that 6 months from now I will look back on this and laugh and say what was I so worried about?