We are often asked how we manage to get a clutch of tired babies and toddlers to sleep at nursery, when parents may struggle to get their little one to sleep at home. Of course, many of our staff are parents themselves, and in our personal lives we know only too well how hard it can be to get our own children to take a nap at times!
But in the professional environment of nursery, there are some differences which can make things easier: firstly we listen hard to you. You are the expert. If you tell us your baby likes to be rocked to sleep, that’s what we’ll do. Do they prefer a buggy? We have those too. Does your child find it easy to sleep in a cot in a darkened room? No problem.
Next we allocate a dedicated member of staff to the task. At home, parents have to be consumate ‘jugglers’ in order to cram everything into the day, perhaps attempting to calm baby whilst answering emails and making a sandwich. If you can send off a quick text at the same time, so much the better. Here at nursery, we have the luxury of being able to give the babies the time they need to help them sleep, with experienced and qualified nursery nurses. This is what you pay us for.
We also ensure that the environment is soothing. We have a sleep room with a range of cots and baby bouncers, we darken the room, we use soothing classical music and we talk quietly to the little ones to ease the transition into dreamland.
The final ingredient in the process routine. Many of the youngsters sleep at the same time each day, for example, and the chances are that the routine in nursery is more fixed and recognisable than yours at home. This is not to say that home should be regimented at all. A good, loving home will always be a bit disorganised and chaotic with a young child in the mix! But at nursery, things run smoother if there is a good routine: we always have a little group time with singing or stories before lunch at 12, followed by the wind-down process before naptime. If your little one is more likely to have a sleep in the morning, he or she will start to recognise the pattern of activities – perhaps a snack and drink followed by a little play, a nappy change and then bed.
Ultimately, all babies are unique and not all will fall asleep as easily as their friends. But we are confident in our skills as nursery nurses and will always work closely with you to find the best way of helping your little one off to the land of nod.