Did you know that 4 to 12 month-old babies need approximately 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day? Children that are 1 to 2 years old require an hour or two less than that, while children aged 3 to 5 are raring to go with 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day.
Achieving a solid nap routine means planning several naps throughout the day. If this seems like a difficult task at home, imagine putting several small children down for a nap at the same time. That’s the challenge for infant educators.
After talking to many educators with several years of experience under their belts, we have put together their best pieces of advice for an optimal nap routine in a daycare setting.
Tasks to implement before naptime
Naptime usually comes right after lunch in early childhood centres. At such a young age, an established routine not only makes children feel secure but also helps them develop good habits and helps them learn how to be responsible.
Set up a sequence of actions that need to be completed before naptime. Everyone washes their hands, brushes their teeth, chooses their favourite toy and helps to put the mats on the floor. Whatever the steps may be, make sure you do them in the same order everyday.
A soothing environment
Winding down before tucking everyone in
Less light – Some educators choose to dim the lights slightly 30 minutes before naptime, while others partially close the blinds at an appropriate time.
A comfortable place to rest – Most daycares use small mats for each child at naptime and they have their favourite blanket and a beloved stuffed animal at their sides. Make sure that your little ones are comfortable by getting mats that are high quality and at least 2 inches thick.
Quiet down – Talk as softly and calmly as you can and opt for individual activities like books and puzzles a few minutes before naptime. Don’t let a whole bunch of your tots gather in one corner of the room. It’s important that each child has his or her own space.
Just before quiet time
For your nap routine to be a success, many daycare educators suggest doing one well-defined activity before naptime begins. Whether it’s reading a story or singing a song, try to help the children understand that once you’ve finished the activity, there is no talking or playing allowed. To help mask noises that might disrupt their sleep, try playing some music in the background or using a fan.
Should you intervene?
You don’t need to get involved if a child has his/her eyes open or is playing with a stuffed animal quietly. On the other hand, to ensure that the child doesn’t interrupt the others, try separating him/her. If you need to speak to or discipline the child, you should do so in another room.
Waking up gently
Some kids will only sleep for a few minutes while others may go into a deep sleep. Once the designated time for napping is finished, helping the children wake up gradually will do a world of good. Doing a few gentle stretches or playing a song quietly are some great options. Allow them at least 10 minutes to wake up before moving on to the next activity.