Daylight savings starts each spring season. It is time to “spring forward” the clocks. It can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because with this, comes an adjustment that does not happen immediately. This is because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning and that is why people usually can see a greater affect on children when the time changes.
This Time change however can work in favor for those families dealing with early wakings, so not all bad!
There are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother. My recommendation is to leave your clock alone Saturday night. Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, coffee, then go around your house and change your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
Children-My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time. How does that work? If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00P.M, you would put him to bed at 7:30P.M on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. Do this for 3 nights, putting him to bed 30 minutes later than normal, then on the 4th night put him to bed at the normal time, 7:0oP.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 for his first nap 30 minutes later than normal. So if he naps at 9:30A.M usually, you would put him down at 10:00A.M. You would do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap. For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00P.M, you would put him down at 7:30P.M. Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00P.M and on 5th day move nap times back to normal time. So if your child naps at 9:30A.M, put him down at 9:30A.M and so on with the rest of the day.
Infants-If you have a baby and his bedtime has become predictable (usually over 6 months old) meaning he is always going to bed around the same time each night, you will shift bedtime by 15 minutes each night until you reach the normal time. So the first night you would put him down at 7:45P.M, (It will feel like 6.45) the second night 7:30P.M, and so on. In four nights you should be back to 7:00P.M. If their bed is not predictable (0-6 months old) simply work on awake windows.
Another tip that is helpful is to darken your child’s room. Your child may wake up too early with the sun rising so early now in the morning and may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside so darkening the room can be very helpful. Even though there is extra hours of daylight children still need the same amount of sleep.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially they won’t be as tired. 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 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.