If you are anything like me every time Daylight Savings Time comes around I go into panic mode and worry it is going to throw my toddler’s sleep into a tail spin. Baby and toddler sleep feels so fragile that even the slightest of hiccups can derail everything and then no one is sleeping. In order to feel a little more prepared I reached out to Seema from Sleep, Rest and Play to see if she had some tips for how to prepare our kiddos from babies up through older children, for the time change!
Here is what Seema had to say:
Yes, it’s that’s time of year again, where we have to adjust our wall clocks, cell phones etc for the winter months. This also means we have to adjust our body clocks too. This can often be a confusing, even difficult time for parents who’s little ones tend to wake up around the same time each morning and are on a nice sleep schedule.
The good news is that there are some things that you can do to make this transition easier.
Firstly, don’t touch those clocks on Saturday night. I know we live in a digital world now where cell phones etc change automatically. This has its benefits as when you wake up Sunday morning, psychologically you will feel better starting your day with the new time change rather than stressing about it the night before.
The easiest way to deal with this change is to split the difference with the old time and new time. How does this work??
School Age Children– If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00 P.M, you would put him to bed at 6:30P.M. on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. Do this for 3 nights, putting him to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal, (it will feel 30 minutes later) then on the 4th night put him to bed at the normal time, 7:00 P.M. or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
Toddlers- If you have a toddler ages one and older, on Sunday the first day of the time change, you would put him down for his first nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if he naps usually at 9:30 A.M. put him down at 9:00 A.M. You would do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap. For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00 P.M, you would put him down at 6:30 P.M. Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00 P.M and on 5th day move nap times back to normal time.
Infants- If you have a baby and his bedtime and naps have become predictable (usually over 6 months old) I would suggest in order to ease them in gently to the change increase their awake time by 15 minutes for 3 days and then 15 minutes again until they reach the desired nap times and bedtime.
If their bedtime and nap times are not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone and use their wake time window (awake time between sleep periods) as your guide.
A great thing about this time change is that there are more hours of darkness which helps make this transition a little easier. If your child wakes up too early, walk them back to their room and tell them it’s not time to get up yet. If your child wakes up too early and is in a crib, be sure to help his body understand it isn’t morning time by keeping him in his crib in the dark room. Wait 10/15 minutes before you respond and increase the wait time by 10 minutes each day for them to understand that morning has not started yet.
Note for Toddlers/School-aged children: If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock to know when their “morning time” has arrived, set the clock a half hour ahead of the new time so that it reads 7:00 A.M. at the new time of 6:30 A.M. Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 A.M according to the clock but it will be 6:30 A.M, new time). This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00A.M. time after about one or two weeks.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially they might seem tired earlier. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, some children it can take up to a month. Be patient and stay very consistent, it will happen.
Seema Bhambri is is the owner and founder of Sleep, Rest & Play. Trained by Dana Obleman, creator of the Sleep Sense program, and a Member of the Professional Association of Sleep Consultants (ASPC), she has been a Sleep Consultant for the past 3 1/2 years. She works with families to help parents get their kiddos on a schedule, give them the confidence to instill changes and give their children the opportunity to learn the skill of independent sleep. Sleep is a necessity not a luxury. Sleepless nights do not have to be a rite of passage into parenthood. You can absolutely have well rested children and enjoy your evenings without the anxiety of baby not sleeping. Seema writes comprehensive Sleep plans for babies aged 4 months to 8 years of age.
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