Baby Exhausted After Daycare? (5 Reasons Why It’s Normal)

It’s time to go back to work, and after months of research and visiting just about every daycare facility, you eventually found the perfect one. Dropping your baby off at daycare for the first time is always traumatic as you experience a range of emotions, everything from guilt to worry and concern.

At last, it’s time to collect your bundle of joy and head off home, where the two of you can spend one-on-one time together. But why is your baby exhausted after daycare? Should you be worried about that? It’s perfectly normal, actually, and it’ll probably persist for some time.

Let’s put it into perspective; daycare is a huge transition for any child, regardless of their age. For many babies, it’s the first time they have ever been away from their parents for a significant amount of time, and it is bound to be a major adjustment.

Reasons Why It’s Normal for Your Baby to Be Exhausted After Daycare

boy laying on a bunch of pillows

1. Change of environment

Initially, your baby’s exhaustion after daycare is most likely due to a change of environment. A change in environment is unsettling for anyone and especially for your baby. Everything is different, and everything is new.

For example, your baby is being held by someone new; your baby is being put to sleep in an unfamiliar cot, and probably not the way you do it. And the sounds of the daycare facility are vastly different from the sounds of your home.

A change in an environment can be exceptionally stimulating for your baby as there are so many new things to see and hear. Out-of-the-ordinary stimulation can also be very exhausting because of a sensory overload, so it’s no wonder why your baby is exhausted after daycare.

2. Change in routine

We all take comfort in routines, and you need to take into consideration that both of your routines have substantially changed. Your baby is exhausted after daycare because everything there is new and feels like it needs their full attention.

Your baby exhausted after daycare might seem weird, but think about how some people get tired while sitting in a car. On paper, you didn’t do much in the vehicle, but in practice, there were a ton of micro-adjustments your body made to stay comfortable through the ride.

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The same principle is responsible for why your baby is exhausted after daycare. They just couldn’t put themselves at ease – not in the same way they could do at home!

A daycare facility will have to coordinate the feeding times and sleeping schedules of all the babies they care for to ensure they all receive the individual care they need. However, these schedules are unlikely to match those that you created at home.

It is worth having a discussion with the daycare to understand your baby’s new routine. There may be minor adjustments they can make, and you may find replicating it as much as possible over the weekends will help your baby adjust far more quickly.

3. Naptimes are different

child in a hoodie sleeping on top of his books

Both the change in environment and routine can impact your baby’s sleeping patterns. Your baby may be accustomed to sleeping in a quieter environment or in a darker room.

In a daycare facility, there is constant noise; after all, there are teachers, teacher assistants, babies, and older children. It is a hive of activity.

They may initially battle to sleep, which obviously means they will be exhausted when you collect them. But don’t worry, your baby will soon adapt to their new environment and routine. You may want to send your baby’s favorite blanket or toy along with them for that extra bit of comfort when they go to sleep.

Once again, having a discussion with the daycare is always recommended as they might be able to accommodate some of your baby’s “preferences,” for example, letting your baby sleep in the cot in the corner where it may be slightly darker and quieter.

4. Stimulating environment

Your baby’s new environment is terribly exciting. There are new people to interact with, and as they grow, they will start interacting with other children their age. Your baby is on the road to learning those much-needed social skills, especially as they grow older, like communicating effectively, listening to others, sharing, resolving conflicts and even problem-solving.

Your baby will be introduced to many new activities that assist their growth and development, which can also add to their tiredness. Your baby needs a stimulating environment that will provide many different ways to learn. Daycare gives them so many new opportunities to learn through everyday interactions and play with the guidance of highly trained educational experts.

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Your baby’s day is full of new activities that challenge them both mentally and physically. They have been exposed to a whole new world.

5. On the way home

girl sleeping on the backseat

You have probably experienced your baby falling asleep in the car even though it may not be nap time. This is because of the movement of the car and the constant humming noise from the engine. So, add a tired baby to the mix, and you are more than likely to arrive home with your baby fast asleep in their car seat.

Perhaps your baby falls asleep a few minutes after you get home, and this can be because they are back in a familiar environment with their Mom or Dad and simply relax. We have all experienced that, coming home after a long day and finding ourselves physically and mentally relaxing as we enter the front door.

Tips to Cope With Your New Routine

Firstly, it is essential to remember that your baby’s exhaustion or tiredness after daycare is normal; just think back to when you went to school. It was a sensory overload, and your brain was working overtime.

It certainly doesn’t mean that anything untoward is happening at daycare. As we mentioned, your baby might be battling to adjust to the new environment and routine, which can cause their sleeping patterns to be altered. Fortunately, babies are adaptable, and they will settle within a few weeks.

As we mentioned previously, both of your routines have changed, and you can’t reasonably expect things to continue the way they were. You will be back on track with a few small adjustments before you know it; when routines have changed dramatically, it’s always best to remain flexible and calm.

We tend to want to come home and make up for that perceived “lost” time that we missed with our baby during the day, but we need to be realistic; depending on the time you collect your baby, it might be time for a bath, bottle/dinner and bed.

There are different views on whether or not you should wake your baby up after they have fallen asleep in the car or leave them be. Depending on when you get home, if your baby is only in daycare for half-days, you can relax and let them sleep.

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If you are like most working parents, by the time you pick up your baby, it’s heading towards feeding and bathing time. Keeping to a routine as much as possible is always your best option. Although you have missed out on time during the day, you can make your evening routine a time that you can both cherish.

Modifying Your Evening Routine

It’s not always possible, as life does happen but as mentioned, having a routine is best for you and your baby. This becomes especially important as they grow older, as they will then know what to expect when they get home, providing a level of comfort.

Bath times are an excellent way to spend some fun one-on-one time with your baby, especially as they get older. Bubbles, bath paints, and crayons, and let’s not forget those floating ducks. Make this a special time.

After your baby has had their bottle or dinner, it’s time for cuddles and bed, and hopefully, you both will be ready for a good night’s sleep. If your baby struggles to fall asleep at night, this can be due to overtiredness. If they are not getting enough sleep during the day, this can negatively impact their sleeping patterns at night.

If you are having trouble getting your baby to fall asleep, our best piece of advice is to relax; things will get better, and your baby will naturally fall into the new routine within a few weeks. Consistency is key. Here are a few things you can add to your evening routine which will hopefully bring both of you that all-important sleep!

  • Start dimming the lights ahead of sleep time.
  • There is nothing like a massage after a bath to relax any baby in preparation for bed.
  • Play soft, quiet music, and there are so many options available, or you can make use of one of the many free white noise apps specially made for babies.
  • And sometimes, babies just need to be held lovingly for a while – after all, they have missed your touch.

Final Notes

We can’t reiterate enough that going to daycare is a significant change for both of you, and it will take time to settle into the new routine. Your baby is exhausted after daycare because everything is new and uncertain, and it might stay that way for a while.

Just breathe, be flexible; the week will pass quickly, and you have the weekends to look forward to, where you can relax and enjoy your baby.