Daylight savings time is coming up this weekend! I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep. So what is the best way to handle it? My advice is to “split the difference.”
For “Fall Back,” my recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30 a.m., you will adjust this to 9:00 a.m. for the three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap.
Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7:00 p.m. I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 p.m. for the first three days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30 p.m. to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.
If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Also, set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 a.m. it says 7:00 a.m. and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wake-up time.
If you are dealing with a baby, you cannot do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6:00 a.m. is okay now. So if she normally wakes at 7:00 a.m., but is now up at 6:00 a.m., you will wait till ten after the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 6:30 a.m. the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 p.m. Adjust naps to the correct time on day four as well.
Remember, it takes time for all of us to adjust to the new time. Following these strategies will make sure that your little one does it smoothly and without trouble!
However, if your little one isn’t sleeping at night or napping well during day and you’re thinking it’s time to do something about, schedule a free 15-minute call with me! I would love to chat and learn more about sleep for your little one and your family.
Already? It always feels like we just changed the clocks. This is not such a big deal prior to having children, but it certainly becomes stressful when parents have to adjust their little ones to a “new time”. This is especially true if they have just gotten on track with sleep.
Losing one hour means an increase in sleep debt for both adults and children. Personally, I feel that Daylight Savings no longer serves a purpose, and statistically speaking, studies have shown that there is an increase of up to 20 % in traffic accidents every year on the Monday after Daylight Savings Time begins.
Nonetheless, it is time to move your clocks ahead one hour on Sunday, March 12, so here are my best strategies to help your child adjust to the new time within a week!
Split the difference.
For the first three days of Daylight Savings you will adjust your child’s schedule ahead by 30 minutes rather than the full hour. He may hang out, babble or take slightly longer to fall asleep. This is okay. He will fall asleep eventually and this will begin the process of resetting his internal clock.
You can begin with bedtime on Saturday night if you that works for you, but feel confident to wait until Sunday. Some people panic and begin adjusting their child a week before Daylight Savings comes into effect, which is unnecessary. If your little one naps, then you will begin with his first nap on Sunday when the time changes. For example, if your child normally naps at 9:30 a.m. you will move his first nap to 10:00 a.m. or if bedtime is normally at 7:00 p.m. you will move it to 7:30 p.m. for the first three days.
On day four, your child will be ready to move to the new time. He will now be back on track with his proper times for both naps and bedtimes.
Darkness increases melatonin production (sleepy hormone). This is a huge advantage in helping reset your child’s internal clock, as well as your own! An hour before bedtime, keep things low key and quiet, dim the lights and eliminate screens. This means no television, iPad’s, etc. that emit blue light and interfere with sleep. If you do not have black-out blinds in your child’s bedroom, now is the time to invest in some to keep it nice and dark to help your little one sleep past the early morning sunrise!
The power of routines.
A child’s mind and body are strongly cued by his routines. By following his usual routines on the first day of time change, he will be able to predict and have a sense of what comes next. For example, if your child naps after lunch, then make sure he has had lunch before his nap on Sunday, and his internal clock will naturally feel prepared for nap time. This is the same for the rest of the daily schedule; awake time activities, supper time and the bedtime routine should all be shifted at the same pace as sleep times.
Follow these strategies, and by the end of the week, your child will be back on track with his normal schedule again!
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
If you are looking for more sleep solutions to get your child sleeping well and through the night, you can set up a free 15-minute consultation here or check out information for my next More Sleep For Baby online workshop!