In our modern society, it is more common than not for both parents to have to work and contribute to the family’s income. Mothers may hate leaving their babies, but it often must be done. There is only one solution to this problem, and that is unfortunately (or fortunately if you need a break) to find a good daycare facility for working mothers.
A mother will never want to leave their baby for eight hours, so guilt can creep in. Daycare services provide a solution for working mothers to leave their toddlers and babies to the daycare staff when they need to go to work. Most of the staff members at reputable daycare centers are well-trained to care for young babies and toddlers alike.
Moreover, daycare also marks a new beginning in your baby’s life; you can actually consider it one of the milestones. Your baby will be exposed to a school-like atmosphere, socialize, make friends, learn new things, and have lots of fun! But daycare can also be exhausting for babies. While some babies are flexible and transition into this new phase easily, some take time and don’t sleep well during daycare naps, and tend to get tired easily.
If you are a mom and wondering why your baby is exhausted after daycare, don’t worry! This happens with most babies, as daycare affects their sleep schedule. Daycare provides a new routine for your child to interact with other people his age. A new schedule with new stimuli will make them feel like exploring. This optimizes the mental and physical growth of your child. The teachers or daycare providers help them adjust to the new environment by keeping them busy which, in turn, makes them tired, and they fall asleep quickly. Alternatively, they may be fussy by the end of the day.
Your baby will take time to acclimate to this new environment. He is exposed to many new things. If your child seems reluctant to go to daycare or cries when you leave, it’s okay; it’s completely normal and nothing to worry about.
We will be addressing this concern, and this article will act as a guide for mothers who are feeling guilty over leaving their babies at daycare. There could be multiple reasons why your baby is exhausted after daycare. Here are a few:
- It’s a new environment and they will need time to adjust
- A new routine, new people, and new everyday activity
- They are constantly active thanks to activities and playtime
- Their mind is always occupied
- They are learning new things
- Interacting with other babies for the first time
- Educational activities can be taxing as it is completely new to them
- Not sleeping well at daycare
- The daycare schedule is not what they are used to
- Emotionally tired as they are away from you for so long
While there could be one or multiple reasons why your baby is exhausted after daycare, there are ways you can help them (and you) ease into this new schedule and routine.
Why Is My Baby So Fussy After Daycare?
Was your tiny tot extremely fussy and cranky when you went to pick him/her up? Although it is a cause of concern for most parents, it’s normal!
Babies tend to get fussy after daycare because they are tired, sleepy, or emotional. One of the main reasons for this exhaustion and emotional load is that they didn’t see you all day and you, as a parent or a primary caregiver, hold a very important and special place in their lives. Daycare is a new beginning for them, and, like any new phase, babies will take their own sweet time to adjust.
- A Big Change
As adults, we tend to get jitters on our first day of work at a new place, so imagine putting a child in a completely new environment with other babies and adults who are strangers to them. It can be a lot for them to take at once!
Your baby is used to being at home with just you and other family members around, so it can be difficult for them to be with so many other little people who are like them. Interacting with other babies can be a challenge for them, but babies are flexible and adapt so much faster than you can imagine. When going through a transition, children just need some time to figure out the new environment and learn from their experiences. Give them a few days to adjust and they might start loving going to daycare and seeing their friends!
- Disturbed Sleep Schedule
Some babies sleep better at daycare thanks to a schedule or routine that daycares follow. Daycare providers sometimes even have an infant or toddler room to help babies sleep better. However, some babies might find it difficult to fall asleep according to the daycare schedule. Less sleep or a disrupted nap schedule can make your baby fussy after daycare.
Sometimes your baby may fall asleep on your drive home. This is probably because they didn’t sleep well at daycare. A disturbed sleep schedule is common and it helps if you can make a few changes to their daily routine, like an earlier bedtime, or extend their nighttime sleep routine so that they are better rested.
- Emotionally Not Ready
It’s possible that your baby is not emotionally ready to be away from you for so long. This can make them extremely fussy when you go to pick them up at the end of the day. Throughout the day they might feel okay with the daycare teachers because they are busy learning and are constantly occupied, but the moment they see you, those suppressed emotions might come rushing and they might throw a tantrum, cry, and make a scene. That’s normal!
What you can do is ease them into this daycare process by initially letting your family care for them when you are away. Keep the time intervals shorter at first, and then increase them steadily. This will give them time to get used to not having you around all the time and make the transition to daycare easier.
Does Daycare Make Babies Tired?
Yes, if your baby has just started daycare, it can be tiring for them. Once they get used to it, they will slip into a routine and will be looking forward to spending time there!
During the first few weeks, everything will be new for your baby. The new environment, new schedule, and new people can be tiring for him or her. Also, some babies find it difficult to adjust to the daycare schedule. If the child naps in their room at home, if their daytime sleep is usually a short nap hugging their favorite blankie, or if they don’t have a schedule and you let them take a nap whenever they want to, then they might find sticking to a schedule and taking a nap with all the other babies around a little too much.
This new arrangement can actually keep the baby awake and sometimes they don’t nap well at daycare centers. If they are having a hard time falling asleep at daycare, they will be tired at the end of the day. While daycare creates a safe and comforting space for babies to help them fall asleep easily, some babies might find it challenging.
Short naps help babies rest and recharge their bodies, and if they are not sleeping well, it means you will be greeted by an exhausted baby at the end of the day. It is nothing to worry about; your daycare provider understands that babies take time to adjust. They will make sure to guide you and help ease your baby into this new place and schedule.
One more thing to keep in mind is your baby’s developmental level at the time of this new transition. Babies between seven and 24 months experience separation anxiety and might find this new transition difficult. This might also make them tired and exhausted. Most importantly, parents and daycare caregivers need to provide support, empathy, and patience.
Give your baby time and you will soon see that they are slowly adjusting to this new routine.
Does Daycare Damage Your Baby?
Working parents are often riddled with the guilt of leaving their children at daycare. Society is not easy on mothers, and we are constantly judged no matter what we do. If you are a working mom, the pressure is even more intense. You may be criticized for putting your career before your child, but we know that you would never do that. Every mom always puts her child first and just because you are working, it does not mean you do not care for your child.
In fact, working mothers always work hard to maintain balance and it can be tiring. If you are a working mom or just a mom who chooses to leave her child at daycare, don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t be too hard on yourself; you are doing the best for your baby, and putting them in daycare will not damage or disturb them in any way!
How Long Should Naps Be At Daycare?
Nap time needs for every child are different and vary according to their growth spurts. Some sleep for thirty minutes, and some sleep for three to four hours. It also depends on the age of the baby because, at an early age, babies tend to sleep more, and as they grow, their sleep cycles decrease.
Naps can be beneficial for a baby’s nighttime sleep, but sometimes daytime sleep can have a negative effect on night sleep of both the baby and the parents. This results in a restless night, which eventually affects the baby’s behavior and the parents’ performance during their working hours. This constant, cranky behavior of the baby can make the new mom doubt herself with this guilt of not giving the baby the proper attention that he or she needs.
Naps at daycare depend mostly on how a child has spent his night. If his nightly sleep was sound, he might need less sleep during the daytime, and if his night is disturbed, he will need more naps. Mothers are encouraged to help their babies sleep and have a proper nap routine. It will make them healthy and less cranky during the daytime.
Why Do Babies Sleep Better At Daycare?
My favorite thing about daycare is routine. Just like school, they have scheduled everything for your baby. They have play time, sleep time, and eating time. The facilitator trains your baby and follows this schedule. Babies are very keen on sensing the mood of their daycare teachers. They know that if something is not according to the daycare timetable. Therefore, they follow this routine very closely.
Secondly, other babies follow the same routine; by nature, babies are copycats, so they copy what others do. In fact, during childhood, one of the main sources of learning is through copying or modelling others. Babies are naturally wired to soak in external stimulation and learn from that. Consequently, the carefully constructed schedule of daycare and how all their peers behave will reinforce the sleeping behavior of your baby as well.
Thirdly, the baby is exhausted due to activities and is happy to enjoy their nap. If your baby sleeps well during the daytime with other babies at daycare, there is nothing to worry about, but you have to keep his sleep cycle in check and avoid early sleep after taking him home to ensure his continued sleep cycle.
How Long Did It Take For Your Baby To Adjust to Daycare?
Every child is different, so while some children take around two to four weeks to adjust to the new environment, some might get adjusted very quickly.
The transition can be super smooth but could also have some hiccups. As parents, you will have to be patient and understanding towards your baby and see what you can do to make this transition as easy as possible for them.
Preparing for daycare and its schedule can help your baby adjust faster. See if the daycare you choose has toddler rooms or other facilities in case your baby finds it difficult to sleep with other kids around. Usually, good daycare facilities have these amenities and will work with you in helping the baby adjust to this new atmosphere.
If your baby is exhausted after daycare, don’t try to keep them awake forcibly because an overtired baby might make nighttime sleep more difficult and even cause sleep regression. Instead, try an earlier bedtime routine or let them sleep per their wish for a few weeks. Babies know when they need rest and when they want to be up and playing. Learn to trust their natural instincts instead of enforcing strict schedules that don’t work well for your baby.
However, once you fix a schedule, make sure you follow it every day, even on the weekends. This is important because for babies, consistency is also the key to making the transition easier. The more consistent their routine is, the more secure and comfortable your baby will feel. Don’t forget that the ultimate goal is to keep your baby feeling cared for and help him/her adjust to the daycare routine without feeling overwhelmed.
What Age Is Best For Daycare?
There’s no perfect age for daycare. It is totally up to the parents when they want to introduce their little angel to the world of daycare. We often think that there must be a specific age at which we should send our kid to daycare, but it really depends on various factors. Some of the most important decisive factors include the parents’ maternity/paternity leave, the family’s financial situation, and the child’s readiness.
While some parents just start the daycare routine without giving their baby any adjustment time at all, it is not the best way to deal with this. Like adults, babies also benefit from gradual exposure and require a fair time to adjust and feel comfortable in a new setting. It is necessary to prepare the child by offering him some visits to the daycare, speaking to him about the environment, and teaching him the basics of how to ask for things if he needs them.
Another factor that is important in this decision is the guilt that mothers feel, especially if they are first time mothers. The guilt is real no matter the age of your baby. New moms often feel this guilt when they start thinking about returning to work and sending their kids to daycare. Being a new mom is stressful and overwhelming, and this guilt acts like a cherry on top. They start thinking that they are not doing justice for their baby. To reduce this guilt, most mothers should send their infants to daycare when they are around twelve months old, which will allow the new moms to spend time with their babies and build that one-on-one connection.
Putting a child in daycare too early can result in weak attachment bonds, which can later become a great regret for a mom. This is because a child needs the most care from birth to eighteen months. During this time, they develop a deeply emotional and cognitive bond with their mothers, and no one can better care for the baby than their parents.
At the end of the day, it is solely the mother’s decision about when their baby starts daycare. Still, research generally supports that twelve months is the best age for daycare for a child because, at this age, he is mobile, can speak a few words, and can express himself a bit. The learning ability at the age of twelve months is sharp. If trained properly, he can learn useful things very quickly. Daycare creates an environment to foster this skill.
Can Daycare Cause Sleep Regression?
It is quite possible but not always a cause of concern. As a matter of fact, babies often experience sleep regression whenever there is a big change or stress in life. Starting daycare means both parents and babies can experience either of these two things and that’s what usually leads to sleep regression.
Simply put, sleep regression is very common for babies who are starting daycare and it can easily be managed. Whether you are going to start daycare or are already going to daycare, be aware about this issue in order to manage it smartly for yourself and your baby.
Children may need around three to four weeks to completely adjust to being at daycare. While some children may adjust faster, some might take longer. It depends on your baby’s temperament, to some extent. All daycare teachers are trained to handle babies, no matter what age group they belong to or how they react to the new environment. They know that a rested baby means a happy baby. That’s why they will always try to ensure that your baby gets enough rest and sleep during their time in daycare.
If your baby shows signs of sleep regression, make sure you talk to the daycare teacher and find out how your baby is doing in terms of daycare naps. While some daycares have a strict schedule and fixed nap times, some are more flexible, so they may be able to let your baby sleep per your schedule to ease the transition in the beginning. However, this is something that requires a close collaboration between the parent and daycare staff, so make sure that you stay in touch.
It’s best to let your daycare provider know your baby’s usual routine at the beginning and see if they are accommodating to your routine. Maybe you can start transitioning your baby to the daycare schedule before you actually start daycare. Being prepared when it comes to babies always helps.
Another thing you can do to help with sleep regression is sending a comfort item with your child—their favorite blankie, stuffed animal, or toy. This will help your baby nap more comfortably at daycare.
At the end of the day, remember that you can’t control everything. Despite your best efforts and those of your daycare provider, it’s possible that your baby will take a while to adjust and go through a sleep regression. While some kids are able to adjust and nap well, other babies will probably never even cat-nap at daycare.
How Do I Cope With Dropping My Baby Off At Daycare?
Mothers have a strong emotional and physical bond with their children, especially their first one, so dropping off your baby at daycare is a difficult task. Dropping off the baby at daycare for the first time can be a tough experience, but keeping its benefits in mind will make it easier.
You can reduce separation anxiety by practicing a few things. Talk to your baby beforehand about daycare. You might think he can’t talk, so he won’t understand it, but talk to him about how much fun that place will be, how they will give them toys to play with, and how he will be making new friends. This will increase his excitement for daycare.
Practice leaving your child away from you a few days before you have decided to start daycare services. This will make it easier on both you and your child when he is left at daycare services for the first time.
Always greet your child with a gift, no matter how small it is, when you pick him up. The gift can be a small chocolate, an ice cream, or his favorite toy (once monthly). Just keep in mind that the sole purpose of this small gift is to act as a reinforcer for your child so that after daycare, your child has a reward to look forward to.
You should also take him to his favorite place once a week; this will increase your bonding with him, and it will remain a win-win situation for both of you. If you feel guilty for abandoning your baby during the day to be at work, ensure that you are spending enough quality time together when you are back home. Do not compromise it for anything in the world! Once your child observes that there is a pattern in the work hours and playtime, he will learn to appreciate it.
However, it is quite possible that initially, your baby feels a little neglected because you will not be around during the day, but don’t feel upset or overwhelmed because of this. You can easily compensate for this by playing games, coloring, and singing with him. Keep in mind that it is better to spend a few hours of focused quality time with your child as compared to a whole day of distracted and inattentive parenting.
Make the most of the time when you are with your baby. Think of some activities and interactive games to play with your child. If you are too tired for an active play time, it is okay to share a story routine once or twice a week. Just experiment a little and see what works best for you and your baby. You will have to make a few adjustments and try a handful of new things before you can pinpoint what really interests your baby the most.
Daycare Centers – Yay or Nay?
Definitely a yes! Rallying the help of a daycare center if you are a working mom or a mom who just needs some time out every day is absolutely fine. Daycare centers are great places for your baby to socialize with kids their own age, make friends, learn, and explore the outside world. It expands their world and makes them think, be active and so much more.
Let’s wrap up this article by encouraging new moms that you are superwomen because being a mom is itself a tough job. You are doing it all: handling the baby, managing the home, fostering your relationship, and working a full-time job that requires dedicated time and energy.
Take a deep breath. You are doing just fine, mama. You are amazing!
Know that it’s natural to feel guilty for putting your baby in daycare. It’s a mother’s instinct to ensure her baby is taken care of.
Let me assure you that your child is taken care of in the best possible way. After a day at daycare, a baby turns into an overtired baby because it’s a new environment for them, and they enjoyed their day. It is completely okay for them to feel that way. Being a new mother, you might feel overburdened by dealing with this stuff, but it’s a matter of the first few weeks before your baby’s timetable will align with yours.
Yes, it will require a shift in your parenting routine and take a while for you and your baby to adjust, but it will be fine at the end of the day. Young parents or first-time parents might find it more difficult in the beginning, but once you speak to your daycare providers and figure out a schedule to help your baby ease into the process, it will all be worth it. Just be patient and give your baby all the support they need in this new transition. Don’t fall into the guilt trap! You are doing the best for your baby.