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how get baby to sleep at daycare

Mom’s question:
My son is now 3 months old and in 3 weeks I am scheduled to return to work. He is sleeping through the night and is on a pretty regular napping schedule through the day. (Yeah!)

The trouble is, he needs to be held, walked, or fed to fall asleep and the daycare provider that we’ll be using has 2 other children to look after. She won’t be able to give him the amount of attention that I have and I need some advice on how to get him prepared for this transition.

Baby Helpline:

Preparing Baby For Sleeping At Daycare

Here are tips on some things you can do during the next few weeks to help preparing your baby for sleeping at daycare:


  • Talk through the situation with the daycare provider. If she is used to looking after infants, she might actually have a few ideas on how to solve the situation. It is very common for young babies to want to be held and even nursed to fall asleep. In addition, if the other children are older or used to falling asleep on their own, the daycare provider might be open to you bringing a baby sling for your son to sleep in if nothing else works.
  • Visit the daycare provider (more than once) to let your baby and her get to know each other.
  • At home, start training your baby to fall asleep without being held by you. Try putting him asleep in his stroller, for example. That way he will still be rocked to sleep, but not in your arms. It’s probably easier for the daycare provider to rock a stroller while attending to the other children than to always hold your baby.
  • Experiment with putting him down when he is almost asleep. If full and tired, surprisingly many babies can learn to fall asleep in their bed if put there right before they fall asleep. Sometimes an interesting musical mobile that plays soft music for at least 15 minutes (link to example at Amazon) is a great help in this situation. However, don’t leave him unless he stays calm, just put him down and cuddle him or whatever is needed to keep him calm.

    I’m not proposing the cry-it-out method at all, especially not now when he is about to experience a huge change in life. Instead, if he starts crying, take him up and start the rocking again. Then put him down again right before he falls asleep and so on. Think about it as a gentle way of teaching him a new technique for falling asleep.

  • Another thing you can do is to let dad (or someone else) put him to sleep. If you stay out of it and don’t give instructions, they may very well find new ways that don’t include the rocking and walking that your son is used to.
  • If you haven’t done it yet, consider introducing a pacifier.
  • Finally, choose one of your tops or a safe stuffed animal that you sleep with for a few days. When given to your baby, this lovey will smell Mom, and may help your baby settle without you, both in his own bed and in daycare.


These are a few things you can do to help your baby fall asleep without you. For more baby sleep tips make sure you check out my Baby Sleep Section.

Good luck!

Add your comments and tips below or return to Baby Sleep Q&A.


Image by Suzanne Shahar

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