Two Strategies to Help your Child’s Sleep Schedule when Daylight Savings Time Begins

 Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 13th, 2016.  This is the time of year when we spring our clocks forward (and lose one-hour of sleep). For most of us, the lost hour of shut-eye is no big deal, but for young children, daylight savings can create a kink in their sleep-wake cycle.

So, what can parents do?

First and foremost, begin by developing these healthy sleep habits:

  1. Establish a consistent sleep schedule for your child. Bedtime and nap times are always the same time.
  2. Establish a 20-30 minute bedtime routine. (i.e. Brush teeth, story time, prayers, snuggles, good night kiss.)
  3. Know your child’s sleepy cues. Consistency is encouraged, but also be aware of your child’s sleepy cues. (Yawning, irritability, etc.) An over-tired child will have a more difficult time falling asleep, so start the bedtime routine as soon as you see those sleepy cues.
  4. Eliminate bright lights or screens at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light interferes with melatonin production and can create bigger bedtime battles.

Once you have these basic sleep practices in place, choose one of these two methods to help your little one transition with the time change:  “Go with the Flow” or “Adjust the Schedule Steady and Slow”.

“GO WITH THE FLOW”

WHO: Early risers, kids who typically wake up at the crack of dawn and kids older than two years old.

HOW:

  1. Move all your clocks ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night (March 12, 2016)
  2. On Sunday, continue with your normal routine. If you have an early-riser, your child should wake up a little later.
  3. Keep nap and mealtime routines on schedule according to their usual schedule. (i.e. If nap time is noon, keep it at noon)
  4. Keep bedtime the same as always, if bedtime has always been 7:30pm, keep it at 7:30pm.


“ADJUST THE SCHEDULE STEADY AND SLOW”

WHO: Babies and children who are more sensitive to changes in schedule

HOW: Slowly adjust your child’s bedtime after the time change:

  1.   Shift your clocks forward one hour on Saturday night (March 12, 2016).
  2.   Sunday, keep your child in bed until the new waking time, which would be 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if your child normally wakes at 8:00 a.m., you will want to wake your child up at 7:30 a.m. (which is the old 6:30 a.m.).
  3.   For bedtime, you’ll want to have your child in bed at 8:30 p.m. (this is the old 7:30 p.m.).
  4.   It’s important that you are consistent with your child’s schedule and routines. To do this by moving all mealtimes and naps 1/2-hour later.
  5.  After 2-3 days, move your child’s bedtime back another 1/2-hour to 8:00 p.m. (the old 7:00 p.m.). You will also need to shift your baby’s waking time later by 1/2-hour. So you’ll now wake your child at 8:00 a.m.
  6. Adjust all mealtimes and naps 30-minutes later throughout your daily routine.

It can take a week or two for kids to adjust to the time change.  So, stay consistent and persistent.