As if managing “sleep milestones” was not enough, the universe throws not one, but TWO major time changes at us during the year! Parents across the board dread Daylight Savings but rest assured – there are adjustments you can make to reduce the anxiety you might have around the time change.
You can embrace the spring forward and make no preemptive adjustments! On Saturday, you’ll put your child down at their normal bedtime and allow them to sleep for the 10-12 hours they usually do. Their waketime, nap time(s) and bedtime will now be at the new clock time. For example, a 7 PM bedtime with a 6 AM wake time will become an 8 PM bedtime and 7 AM waketime!
If you were dealing with early wakings, this plan actually solves your problem because that 5:30 wake up becomes a 6:30 wake time! However, this doesn’t work for families who already have children who are going to bed at 8 PM because with this time change, an 8PM bedtime becomes a 9 PM bedtime. Remember that after 8 PM children get a “second wind” and have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep! This is ideal for families who have some wiggle room in regard to their clock time – those who don’t have to be out the door by 7 AM for example.
You can adjust more gradually if you remember enough time in advance and are a planner (like me!). Starting on Thursday, you shift your child’s schedule 15 minutes earlier, including their morning wake time, their nap(s) and bedtime. Friday you shift their schedule 30 minutes earlier, Saturday 45 minutes earlier and by Sunday you’ve gradually shifted an entire hour earlier and the time on the clock is what you’re use to following!
Typical Clock Time – 7
Thursday – 6:45, Friday – 6:30, Saturday – 6:15, Sunday (after the time change) – 7
You can shift their schedule back in 15-minute increments beginning on Monday morning if you rather wait till after the time change! The gradual shift should help their internal clock adjust, making it less likely that they will lose sleep. This approach is again ideal for families who have some wiggle room in regard to their clock time and those who don’t have to be out the door by a certain time.
“New” Clock Time – 8
Monday – 7:45, Tuesday – 7:30, Wednesday – 7:15, Thursday – 7
Whether you plan ahead and adjust or just take it in stride, here are some tips to help you adjust to the new schedule as smoothly as possible –
Expose your child to plenty of natural light, especially in the morning and early afternoon! This will help reset their biological clock making it easier to adjust to the new time.
Before it’s time to sleep, do the opposite! Close the curtains, dim the lights in the house, and avoid the use of any electronics. Minimizing the exposure to bright lights will help your child wind down and encourage the production of melatonin. Use room darkening curtains so that the new early evening light doesn’t make it difficult to fall asleep!
Maintain your sleepy time routine! If your child has learned to associate being brought to their room and having their diaper changed, being held and sang to before being laid down, continue to do so as this signals to your baby that it’s time to sleep.
Most important, remember to be patient, consistent and to relax! It can take time to adjust to a clock change, thankfully this is the easier of the two, but give yourself and your child some grace!
Written By: Kimberly Lewis- Infant & Child Sleep Coach- BabyZzz