As a daycare provider, you *might* be lucky enough to have space in your home for all of the kids to take a nap in a separate area. But if you’re like most, you just don’t. Chances are, you’ll have one or two areas that are safe and accessible for kids to sleep in. And chances are, they’ll all be napping at the same time.
Here’s how to get all of your daycare kids to sleep at the same time:
- Make naptime a consistent part of your routine. Use whatever time works for you and your schedule, but make it the same time every day. Make sure it’s the same length of time everyday. I suggest 2 hours for babies and toddlers.
- Change diapers and have a toilet time before starting naptime.
- Give each child their own dedicated space to sleep. Whether it’s their own playpen or cot, give them a physical space to call their own.
- Provide a warm blanket and pillow for each child (or have them bring their own from home). The coziness factor is huge when it comes to keeping kidlets quiet.
- Close the blinds and turn off the lights. Make it as dark as possible. The decrease in light will naturally help their bodies to quiet down.
- Play the same soft music everyday for the duration of naptime. This helps muffle any unexpected doorbell chimes or other sounds that would otherwise shatter the silence. And, it becomes an audio cue to the children’s brains that it’s time to slow down and rest.
- Provide picture books for the kids that you know won’t sleep. Make a rule that they can look at the books, but they need to lay down and stay on their own cot.
- Tuck everyone in with a hug or kiss and a “Night-Night”, or a similar routine that will signal the beginning of naptime for them. Put down any playpen nappers first, and then work on the cot nappers. After this point, make sure they stay on their cot (unless they have to use the bathroom) until naptime is officially over.
- Sit beside the children that have trouble falling asleep, starting with the most likely to fall asleep and ending with the least likely. If one child has a hard time staying on his or her cot while waiting their turn, sit them in your lap while you sit with the others. Rub their backs, stroke their hair or forehead until they’re asleep or at least quieted enough to fall asleep on their own.
- If anyone gets up off their cot, gently lead them back to it and lay them down, reminding them that it’s sleep time. Rub their back or feet if needed.
- Signal the end of naptime by turning off the music, opening the blinds and turning on the lights. You may have a wake-up song too. This helps with getting the kiddos in sync with the routine. They’ll very quickly start to get the idea of the routine and flow of naptime, and they’ll have a much easier time settling when they know there’s a definite end.
- Change diapers and have a toilet time, or have snack time, or some other activity in your schedule that gets the kids up and moving. For the ones that have trouble sleeping, this will give them something to look forward to.
- Don’t allow the kids to sleep longer than your scheduled naptime. Giving them a specific length of time helps their little bodies regulate and sleep more deeply and restfully. It also makes it easier on parents at night in keeping a consistent bedtime.
Consistency and routine are the most important factors in helping multiple children sleep in the same room. After about a couple of weeks, the children will know what to expect and when to expect it. You’ll find that most children will enjoy the time to sleep, or for the older ones, even just to rest and have a quiet time.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas! What do you struggle most with in getting children to sleep, either in your home daycare or with your own children?