Infant Sleep & Rest in Early Childhood

By Published On: July 1, 2020Categories: Blog, Infant, Toddler
infant sleep rest early childhood nino ela

Niño Early Learning Adventures are conscious of the gap between the care that is provided to children in a traditional long day care setting versus that of the child’s home environment.  In Niño ELA’s centres, with routines being a daily focus, we lose the secure opportunity to build a strong bond between Educator and child, and the essential support to achieve the lifelong benefits associated with good infant sleep and rest in early childhood.

By mirroring the strong connections built between a child and their parent as much as possible there is an opportunity to build upon the relationship between each child and their educator, creating a continuity of care between the early learning setting and home.

Your child’s sleep and rest in an early learning (long day care) setting

Across our centres we support children to achieve the lifelong benefits associated with good sleep and rest. We provide a very calm, engaging and supportive environment where Educators can flourish and focus on the individual child settling down to sleep, providing them with the home like environment and mimicking the parent to child interaction.

Educators and families learn the skills required to enhance the sleep and the settling of children. Families are provided with the comfort and reassurance that their child is in a safe environment; supporting their child’s emotional needs and being able to provide a secure attachment helps reduce the stress level of parents and children.

Children have a secure attachment as they are being nurtured. Their emotional needs are aided through respectful interactions and their sleep environment is calm, warm and of a similar nature to their home ambience.

The sleep cycle of a baby

When babies are in a deep sleep they do not flinch, but instead are very relaxed and sound asleep.

Similar to adults, babies move between active sleep and quiet sleep.

  • Active sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) displays movement of the face and movement of eyes under the lids, twitching, jerky and even make little sounds.
  • Quiet sleep (non-Rapid Eye Movement) displays lack of facial or eye movement and bursts of sucking movements, also known as deep sleep.

A key difference between a baby’s sleep cycle and that of an adult is that a baby’s sleep cycle is shorter than an adults, and for the most part, babies aren’t able to join one sleep cycle to the next sleep cycle. A baby’s normal sleep cycle is from 20 to 45 minutes compared to adults who have a 90 to 120-minute sleep cycle.

The key to supporting babies to sleep is be guided by your baby. as soon as they display these tired signs prepare your baby for sleep.

Many babies will fall asleep anywhere and won’t require a darkened room. Quiet background sounds such as white noise can help infants relax and drift off to sleep.

Signs to look out for when your child is tired

  • Blank Gaze
  • Pale face
  • Jerky movements
  • Reddened eyebrows and around the eyes
  • Grizzling & hiccups
  • Yawning

Infant Cues

Infant cues are the key to communicating with your infant. Being able to recognise your babies’ cues will assist you with their needs throughout their daily routine. Babies will display both engaging and disengaging cues, and all individual infants will have different cues for different things – the key is getting to know your baby.


  • Learn their cues for eating, sleeping, hunger and much more.
  • Babies are more likely to respond to you at certain times depending on what cues they are displaying.
  • Engage and listen to your baby as they communicate through their behaviour, such as making eye contact, or simply gazing at you
  • When babies need time for change you will notice they become restless, push you away, arch their back, displaying disengaging cues.
  • We need to take time to observe our babies and consider what cues they are displaying and what they are telling us. Sometimes cues can be misled for difficult behaviour.

At Niño ELA, we deliver a response-based gentle approach to settling children at sleep time, where the emotional needs of the children are respected, whilst responding to cues and providing a safe sleep environment.  The program supports Educators and families to comfort their baby through a change process which helps the young to undergo positive emotional development, and support to achieve the lifelong benefits associated with good infant sleep and rest in early childhood.

If you would like to know more about Niño ELA’s Infant Specialist Training and Curriculum program and the support provided to our Niño ELA families, contact a local centre today.