Q. Do you have any suggestions to aid my baby in adjusting to the upcoming Daylight Savings Time change?
Daylight Savings Time will soon be upon us. For most of us rolling the clocks forward this coming Sunday (March 10th) is bittersweet. It signals that Spring will soon be here, along with warmer weather and the promise of finally getting out of the house! However, it also means the loss of one hour of sleep. If you are a parent that one-hour loss becomes even more cumbersome as it means also helping your child assimilate while trying to keep them on schedule. In our exhausted parental state this can seem tricky. The good news is that “springing forward” tends to be less problematic for most little ones than the end of Daylight Savings in the fall (and may even help parents of early risers finally establish a later wake time). Here are a few tips on how to ease your child’s transition to the new time:
♥ If your child is generally adaptable to schedule changes or is taking only one nap or no naps a day, your best bet is to switch everything (wake-time, nap, bedtime, meals, etc.) to the new clock “cold turkey.” Note that you may have to rouse your child at his/her normal wake-time for a few days because of the loss of one hour of sleep. Exposing your child to light in the morning and continuing with all of your normal activities will help reinforce the new wake time.
♥ If your child is napping multiple times during the day (or you are concerned that moving to the new time “cold turkey” will be too stressful for both of you), you can make the switch gradually over a few days by only making each nap and bedtime a half hour later. For example: if your normal schedule is Nap 1: 9am, Nap 2: 12pm, Nap 3: 3pm, bedtime 7pm, it will change to Nap 1: 9:30, Nap 2: 12:30, Nap 3: 3:30pm and bedtime 7:30pm. After a day or two you can add the additional 30 minutes to bring your child all the way to he new clock time. This will help your child ease into the time change more smoothly.
♥ Whichever way you choose to handle adjusting your child’s schedule, it is very important to stay consistent in your regular daily routine. For example, if you always have breakfast before Nap 1, lunch before Nap 2, snack before Nap 3, and dinner, bath and a book before Bedtime – make sure this is still your routine. These regular parts of your child’s day actually act as “cues” telling their brain that sleep is coming next. Keeping them consistent will help their bodies adjust even more quickly.
♥ As the days grow longer and it stays brighter out well into the evening, it is crucial to ensure that your child’s room is as dark as possible so that it is conducive to sleep. One suggestion is to invest in room-darkening or “blackout” curtains, which are readily available at many stores and online, and do a great job of keeping light out of little ones’ rooms.
♥ Keep your house dim in the hour or so leading up to bedtime – shutting off any unnecessary lights and keeping the activity level in your home as calm as possible will ease your child into a sleepy frame of mind even if there is still daylight outside.
However you decide to handle Daylight Savings, try to be patient with yourself and your child and keep in mind that it may take a few days for your child’s sleep schedule to regularize.
Amy Lage is a Family Sleep Institute certified Child Sleep Consultant. She is co-owner of 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. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.