My baby only sleeps on me but he starts day-care soon. Should I start transitioning him to sleeping alone?

The transition to daycare can be fraught with worry.

There is a common perception that in order to prepare baby for a separation (starting daycare, getting ready for a new sibling, etc) we need to first “practice” separation so that baby gets used to it.

In fact the opposite is true. The more that a child’s “connection cup” is full before a change or separation, the more secure they’ll feel, and the easier it will be (keeping in mind that for higher needs babies it may be extremely hard no matter what). 

Also, any new pattern set before a big change or separation has the potential to just fall apart anyway (I.e. it’s common for babies to “reverse cycle” and nurse more in the night after starting daycare as way to get their calories AND get the needed connection with mom), so any hard work spent trying to “change” something largely biologically-driven may be for naught. Yet we know from our members that babies/toddlers can have one way of falling asleep at home and another at daycare.  Without any parent lead changes.

So our advice is not to change anything. There is little that we can do to force our children to be ready to sleep independently anyway. But what we can do is choose the best care option from the selection available so that the transitions will be easier.

The most important information you need to identify when looking for a carer/day care is their attitude to baby sleep. If the care provider has common values, and experience lovingly supporting babies who are held and rocked/boobed to sleep at home, then they will do everything in their power to help your child through this transition too.

If, however they believe that babies need to self soothe, or don’t have the staffing ratios to give hands on sleep support, or just like to have babies sleep independently so they can do other tasks or will “do whatever a parent wants” - most likely the transition will be difficult for everyone, no matter how much you try to prep your baby.

Remember, above all else. A day care provider works for you. It is not your responsibility to train your baby into compliance to make their life easier.

4 Steps to Help with Baby’s Transition to a New Caregiver

What is Normal Infant Sleep? (Part I)

How to Get Your Baby to Nap in Daycare

Breastfeeding And Returning To Work