Managing Babywise with Daycare

Babywise is definitely a philosphy that requires time and attention from the caregiver. This can be difficult enough when you are home with your baby all day and know exactly what is happening when and have some control over it. It becomes more difficult when your child is in daycare of childcare and you have to rely on someone else to do things and keep you informed.

I recently asked readers on Facebook how they make Babywise work with daycare. Here is the advice they gave.

Be Flexible (and find someone you can trust)

Ashley said: Be flexible. I only work part-time in the mornings. My boys (aged 3 years and 11 weeks) go to a friend’s house while I work. She knows my basic schedule with my baby and works toward it. But I also understand that she is working with a child that is not her own. If he breaks schedule (which happens a lot with a newborn), I trust her to do what she is comfortable with. He is often overtired once he gets home, so I let him sleep in the swing for a quick nap to help him get back on schedule. I tell myself that he will ultimately drop his morning naps so I really need to work with him on solid afternoons. That’s the key with inconsistency: keep the big picture in mind. This is how I survive daycare, church, and many other things 

Kim said: Flexibility- when my middle daughter was starting at a center at 1 year old, she had a very hard time with naps in the morning and afternoon. Now she had trouble taking more than 45 min naps at home too but at least she would sleep for 45 min. I learned to be ok with her moving out of her morning nap sooner than I would have liked but it was ok. My middle now (2 year old) takes a great 2 hour nap in the afternoon every day. My 3 year old will not take a nap at daycare anymore. They asked me what I wanted to do and I asked if she could read on her cot or play quietly and they are fine with that.

Daycare centers generally have some sort of schedule (ex quiet/nap time in the whole center from 12:30-2:30, lunch and snacks at a certain time) so it might not match your schedule.

Choose the Necessary

Kim said: At the infant level, they will have a 4 to 1 ratio so again, they will try to follow your schedule as best they can but it won’t be perfect since they probably have 3 other schedules to follow as well. Think about what main things you would like to keep consistent – for me it was the eat play sleep so I really stressed that to them (again at the infant level)

Relinquish Control (and have consistency at home)

Jessica said: Accept that you can try your best, but you cannot control naps when your child is at daycare. My son would rarely sleep well for them and if he did fall asleep it would be for 30 minutes or less. Respect bedtime because your little one will likely be exhausted.


Kim said: Communication is huge. You also will need to be understanding and flexible. Daycare is a different environment- different lights, sounds, etc so things will go differently than at home. Talk with them to see how your little one is doing, when your little one is being successful, when they are not, etc. We have done both at home and a center and communication and flexibility were key. All of our daycare workers love our kids and really try to do what we ask.

Establish a Hierarchy

Amanda said: I honestly love schedules and babywise and tinkering with them – and since I am getting ready to send #3 to daycare in the spring I also have a strong LOVE for babywise and daycare and ways to make it work. A few things that I do that have really helped with my kids is

1. set up my goals and my hierarchy for that child and their time at day care. for kids that I do not worry about eating to sleep, maybe that is low on my list. If i have a baby who is having a hard time falling asleep on their own and we have just made big strides at home it may be my highest priority to make sure we arent messing with that. But I set up my hierarchy and then I slowly share those with the day care workers. Typically this looks like working on one thing at a time. One week I may say, baby has had a really hard time snacking on bottles all the time and we really want to make sure hes only eating every 2.5-3 hours to make sure he is getting full feeds. Once I feel like the teachers are on board with that and have created that into their routine with baby I will move on.

2. I set my schedule early on based on when baby needs to wake up to get to day care etc. I start thinking about it when they are born so I can know ahead of time what my goals are for DWT and bedtime early on. I find it also helps to have day care know if they are going to be ready for a bottle right when they get there, or a nap or what not – you start the day setting them up for success and they can easily get in the flow.

3. It is important to know that even with the tiny babies, day care is set up for lunch at 12 and naps right after. This is a priority and many daycare centers will turn the lights off and it ends up being the most opportune time for good naps even for tiny ones. Knowing this helped me prioritize that nap early on – and actually made the 2-1 nap transition a lot easier with my second who started day care earlier than it did for my 1st. The final thing is to keep in mind the end goals and the great things that can come from learning to sleep at day care. My children can easily sleep on a nap mat just about anywhere starting at age 1, this makes travel and being somewhere besides home at nap time much easier. The 2-1 transition can be a lot easier because often kids will get a small cat nap in the AM and then the longer nap in the afternoon early on in day care and they quickly learn to consolidate the sleep in the afternoon. Another bonus – during nap regressions, it can be nice to have a break for trying to get kids to nap! I have encouraged many of my friends that it is possible to do babywise and have a child in day care. It takes some flexibility (which is good for my type A personality) but it helps you see what the goals really are!

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1 thought on “Managing Babywise with Daycare”

  1. I know this isn't an option for everyone, but we have found the biggest key to Babywise success and daycare is to take as long of a maternity leave as possible. I am fortunate in that I have a job that allowed me to take very long leaves of absences for both of my boys, but I think if you can swing even 4 months of leave, you can lay a very strong foundation.With our first, he didn't start daycare until 16 months due to a long maternity leave and Grandma care, so by the time he started he was already on 1 nap. That made the transition a lot easier and they put him down for nap about 30 minutes later than we did at home, which was fine. A benefit to daycare for our son was that he ate much better for his caretakers surrounded by other children than he did at home for me. Because of the habits we had put in place with Babywise, he was considered a very easy child and the caretakers immediately knew when he was getting sick or teething because he was actually fussy and cranky. With our current baby, I will return to work after a year, so he will still have a morning nap, but he's a much more easy going baby than our first was, so I think he will deal with the transition much better. With both boys, the hard work with Babywise really paid off by 12 weeks. I'm not going to lie, because they both had reflux and colic, the first 2 months were awful and it didn't seem like it made sense to try and stick to a schedule when they were just screaming and upset all the time. But stick to it – especially if you have to go back to work. For #1, he fell into his rhythm by 11 weeks and #2 by 8 weeks. By 4.5 and 3 months respectively they were both sleeping 12 hours a night and had pretty predictable naps aside from growth spurts or teething or illnesses. If you can go back to work with a baby who sleeps 10-12 hours a night and takes 3 naps a day, your life will be SO much better, especially because you can help give your daycare a schedule and a routine to work with. The only thing that will be hard is to pick your daily wake time based on when you have to get them up for daycare.While I love taking long maternity leaves for a variety of reasons, I felt like I could go back to work easily if I had to with my firstborn at 6 months. That's saying a lot because he was an extremely high-needs baby. But the upside to having a high-strung baby was that he absolutely thrived and was happiest on a super rigid schedule. At that point he was on 2 naps a day like clockwork at 10 and 2 and was going to bed fairly early because he was dropping the 3rd nap and I think he would have been very easy to care for as long as someone stuck to his schedule. I have zero doubt that I could leave my 4.5 month old son right now if I had to as he's on a similar schedule and he's much more laid back in terms of personality. That's all due to the work we put in with scheduling.If you can, short of a nanny, I'd recommend finding a small in-home daycare or a daycare that has very low ratios for infants. Obviously state laws are in place for these things, but the more attention your child can get from the caregiver, the better they can stick to a schedule. My SIL had her son start daycare at 12 weeks at a place that had 1 teacher per 2 infants until 12 months. They had their own 2-crib bedroom for naps, and it was the same assigned teacher for that pair of babies until they aged out to the next room. I thought this was wonderful.


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