5 Tips to Prepare Your Kids for the Daylight Saving Time Change
Although you lose daylight hours, “falling back” can be so comforting. You gain an hour of sleep and it’s the start to the time of year where you get to hunker down and snuggle up; unless of course you are a parent of little ones. In that case “falling back” can mean you’ll be waking up at an ungodly hour. But does daylight savings time really have to be an event parents fear? The simple answer is no. While “falling back” is more difficult for babies and toddlers to adjust to than “springing forward” there are several steps that parents can take before the clocks change. Here are some tips from WRB Certified Child Sleep Consultant Lauren Stauffer to make it a smooth transition:
- Stick to routines: Young children crave routines in their daily lives as it helps them to know what to expect. Keep all elements of their routine in place so that events that have come to serve as cues that sleep will follow remain consistent.
- Get well rested NOW: Go into daylight savings time well rested. Young children who are overtired have a much harder time adapting to any changes in their schedule. Since they are already tired one slight change can push them into a completely overtired state, which can lead to night wakings, poor naps and bedtime battles. Since we know changing the clocks could result in a little bit of lost sleep we want to make sure they do not already have sleep debt as we approach the time change.
- Seek out the sun: Exposure to sunlight can make the transition easier. Our biological clocks respond to light and darkness and cue our bodies that it is time to be awake or asleep. Use the bright sunlight as a form of light therapy and make sure your little one gets plenty of light exposure in early evening. In the morning utilize blackout shades to insure that their room is not too bright.
- Adjust schedules ahead of time: Young babies who are still taking several naps a day will do better with a gradual shift that occurs over several days as it allows their bodies to adjust. Shift all elements of their schedule (meals, bath time, story time etc.) as they are all cues to their bodies that sleep will follow. In this case “fall back” we will move their schedule forward slowly as we encourage their bodies to wake an hour later. Starting about one week before the time change move their whole schedule forward by 15 minutes every day or two. For example, if nap 1 occurs at 9am, 9am will become 9:15, then 9:30 etc. Nap two would also be moved from 1:00pm to 1:15, then 1:30 etc. until we have moved the schedule by one full hour. If you we adjust their schedules in increments ahead of time, after the clocks have changed their bodies will already be adjusted to the new time. Most toddlers and kids who are only taking one nap a day, or who are no longer napping at all, will do best just going cold turkey on the day change the clocks.
- Give them some time and space: If for a few mornings after the time change your little one does in fact wake up earlier do not rush right in. If we begin to rush in at 5:30, knowing it feels like 6:30 to their little bodies, it will in fact reset their biological clock and teach them that it is time to be awake. Instead give them some time and space to fall back to sleep and go in at your usual time.
Light (or darkness) at the end of the tunnel!
After daylight savings time it is cooler, darker and more conducive to sleep. If you help your little one adjust comfortably they should be able to get right back on track just in time for the best sleeping weather of the year!
To schedule an interview with Lauren Stauffer, Family Sleep Institute Certified Child Sleep Consultant, please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren Stauffer is a Family Sleep Institute certified Child Sleep Consultant with Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule.
Whether you are looking for a quick answer to a nagging question about your child’s sleep or you are in need of a complete overhaul of your child’s sleep plan, Well Rested Baby can help you achieve the good night’s sleep that is every parent’s dream! Well Rested Baby does not advocate any one particular sleep training method. Instead, we take a family centered approach to the process of improving your child’s sleep, listening to your concerns as parents and discussing with you the best plan to get your child’s sleep back on track or off to a good start. We truly believe that every child can be a good sleeper — it takes time, patience and some effort but Well Rested Baby is here to educate you and support you through the process.
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