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Returning to Work and Sleep

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

The return to work...

For some it's an exciting time, something they're looking forward to, for others it's a need not a want and something they dread. With the return to work, as a parent, there's a whole lot of other things that now come with it too... Organising:

  • Care for your little one (family, friends, child care etc.)

  • Clothes, food, activities for the day

  • Drop off and Pick Up

  • Logistically getting yourself and your little one out the door in the morning

Then throw sleep in on top of that as well and the anxiety can start to creep in. Particularly if you've had or are still having a rough time with your little ones sleep, whether that be naps and/or night time sleep, the pressure of someone else now having to get your little one to sleep can be daunting!

If your little one is going to child care, do not worry! The educators do it for a living, they have experience with many many different babies. If your baby needs to be rocked or patted to sleep, they will be as accomodating as possible. If friends or family are looking after your little one, make sure you tell them what works for you and that you'd like them to do the same things.

Just like at home, setting your little one up for optimal sleep opportunities is key, the rest is up to them. Here are some tips to ease the transition (for everyone!):


If your little one is going to someone else's house, ask to see where they think they'll be putting them down to sleep. If it is a very bright room, offer to provide a portable blackout blind. The less visible distractions, particularly in a new environment, the better. White noise is still important. Portable white noise machines are a great resource for other people's houses. If your little one will be sleeping in a portacot, try getting them used to it at home first. Offer a nap a day (or every other day if they only have one nap) in the portacot, in their usual sleep space. Keep everything else in their sleep environment the same so they can adjust to the new bed. Put a familiar sheet on the mattress so your little one has that comfort.


Take their comforter with them, this applies for child care too. This security item will make them feel safe enough to close their eyes and sleep. Ensure you have packed appropriate clothing and sleeping bag for your little one for the weather, you can never have too many options. Using the same sleeping bag as the night before can also work really well to establish familiarity for your little one.


We know that children thrive on routine, so share your routine with their carer. For younger bubs this can depend on the time they wake in the morning, so have it ready (written down if that's easier) to pass on. If your bub's routine will need to adjust to fit in with the new carer, for example they also need to do school pick up and drop off, try adjusting your routine before hand with your little one to get them used to the new timings.

It can be a stressful time returning to work, especially when you have been the primary care giver for your child, spending every day with them and now you won't be. During the day, when you are away from them, try not to stress and worry about them. Don't worry about how much or how little sleep they've had, if they've had enough to eat, if they've played outside. Trust that their carer will do everything they can to do what is best for your little, based on what you have asked. Yes, it may be a rough transition with an overtired bub at bedtime, but it won't last forever.


When you see them at the end of the day, dedicate some connection time before bed, with no distractions. Put the phone away, turn the tv off, get down on their level and let them lead the time. Have lots of eye contact, talk, sing, cuddle, play, fill their cup before you begin your bedtime routine.

As with anything, the rough times won't last forever.

You got this!

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