The fundamental problem with daycare is that it's a seller's market. This means there are more parents who want a slot for their kids than there are slots available.
What does this mean for you as a parent?
It means that you have little to no say in how they treat you or your child.
I have come to believe over the past 9 months that daycare is sub-optimal for most children under the age of 2. Unless your child can sleep if there's a bomb going off underneath them, and cries LOUDLY reliably when they need to eat, they simply aren't going to get the soothing they need to sleep during the day, and they may not get fed enough, unless you are really on top of the teachers (Which they really appreciate, let me tell you. NOT!).
There are babies like this, apparently. I thought I had an easy baby until I met them, and then holy shit. When people looked at me incredulously when I said infancy was really difficult for us, I now understood why: they had fantastically easy babies who actually slept when put down!
Dylan is not like that.
Scratch that. Dylan is AMAZING. She is perfect. She is wonderful. She is (now) a great sleeper! But! She is also a light sleeper (easily fixed by putting her to sleep in a dark room with a noise machine). And she is not a complainer. She is very good natured, so if you feed her only when she cries, she basically will eat 70% of what she really needs.
If you stay home with her, she is easy-peasy. However, neither of these needs get reliably met in a daycare setting. Well, I take that back. In the infant room, where they can accommodate a morning nap and an afternoon nap, now that she no longer requires any soothing at nap time, she will reliably take two perfect (albeit shorter than at home) naps. One at 9:30, and one at 2. You could practically set a clock by her schedule. And I solved the eating problem by bringing in 4 perfect bottles a day and having a shit fit (no, really) whenever they didn't attempt the 4th bottle, which happened more or less any time a teacher who wasn't familiar with her took care of her.
Unfortunately, now that she is being "promoted" to young toddler they are no longer able to let her take two naps a day. A 2 nap schedule just doesn't go along with the schedule (not to mention chaos) they keep in that room. And while on one hand, I can't wait to be rid of the attitude in the infant room, this means she needs to conform to the schedule of a typical 18-24 month old child. I.e. 1 nap per day.
I was assured that they would let her sleep if she was tired. This is a lie. This week she has reportedly been struggling to stay awake over lunch, and (I hear) nodding off at the table. Why? Because she is taken to the young toddler room for transition at 10, right when she should be taking a morning nap, and then forced to stay awake for another 2-3 hours.
I am told that when she returns to the infant room after lunch at 12:30 that she conks out like a stone.
The infant room has graciously (*snort*) been trying to put her down for a second nap later in the afternoon. They have had varying degrees of success with this. If she sleeps from 12:30-1:30, they can often get her to go down again at 4:30. However by the end of the week she is so tired that she sleeps from 12:30-2:30. Then if they try to get her to go down at 4:30, she won't go to sleep. She cries and cries and cries. They say to me that she must not be tired. The reality is she's so freaking exhausted that she can't self soothe, and also that 2 hours is too short a window for her to take a second nap most days.
This causes her to be really fussy -- like so fussy I can't put her down at all -- when I bring her home. She routinely crashes within 30 seconds of being put in her carseat in the evening (it's worse at the end of the week), last night she fell asleep while Luca was putting her bib on for dinner, and she screams and cries and won't eat dinner.
Of course daycare doesn't see this, so they've adopted the, "You're just a crazy mommy who doesn't want her baby to grow up," attitude with me. I'm sure you can imagine how well that has gone over.
I've talked to the young toddler teachers, and they have repeatedly assured me that they will have a cot for Dylan to crash on if she needs to in the room.
This is a lie. Two days ago I saw another child in the room having a colossal meltdown at 5. This same child I've repeatedly heard the teachers say, "I'm so sorry sweetie, I know it's a long day," to in the past. Was there a cot for her to lie down on?
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Look, I get it. Daycare can't accommodate children this age who don't already have the sleeping habits of a 2 year old, and parents are expected to live with it. And I appreciate that the infant room is trying to help Dylan get her rest -- they really are trying, and they can't change center policy. But keeping Dylan awake for 6 hours in the morning before nap #1 is messing up the rest of the day in a major way.
It's all very upsetting because if you adhere to a morning / afternoon nap schedule, she is the easiest -- happiest -- child in the world. She will even put herself to bed for naps! No soothing required. You say, "Dyls! Want to go take a nap?" when it is time, and she will toddle herself over to her cot and lie down with her lovey.
But because two naps are inconvenient for daycares to accommodate in the room for young toddlers, they simply force the children who aren't ready for one nap yet to do it anyway whether they're ready to or not. And then they put up with screaming crying fussy overtired children. Goodness knows if they develop an active dislike / resentment for these children too, but it honestly wouldn't surprise me given what most people are like. It's pretty horrible. I think most parents are too afraid to complain (since it is so hard to get into a daycare at all), and / or are generally too conflict avoidant to say anything (we're talking about guilt ridden working moms here).
It does make me wonder if the ADHD/childhood obesity epidemics are in part due to daycare though, and their inability to accommodate all but the easiest and most low maintenance children. Too bad it hasn't been studied long term yet.