It's that time of year! The dreaded daylight savings. The positive side? Daylight savings starts each SPRING season! Goodbye winter :) It is time to “spring forward” the clocks on March 13th. 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 effect on children when the time changes.
However, there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother:
WAIT: My recommendation is to leave your clock alone Saturday night. Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, 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.
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, move bedtime 15 minutes earlier. For example, if bedtime is normally 7:00 pm move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach the normal time. So, the first night you would put him down at 7:45 pm, the second night 7:30 pm, and so on. In four nights, you should be back to 7:00 pm. If their bedtime is not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night because you'll be working off of wake windows throughout the day and not focusing on the clock.
TODDLERS: If you have a child on a set schedule (usually ages 7/8 months and older), on Sunday the first day of the time change, you will put him down for his first nap 30-minutes later than normal. So, if he naps at 9:30 am usually, you will put him down at 10:00 am.
You will do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap. For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00 pm, you would put him down at 7:30 pm. Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00 pm, and on the 5th-day move naptimes back to normal time.
OLDER CHILDREN: My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference between 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 7:00 pm, you will put him to bed at 7:30 pm 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, 7:00 pm, or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
DO NOTHING: There is always the option to ignore the time change and jump into the new schedule and wait for his body to adjust. This adjustment is easiest for school-aged children, and I don't recommend it for little ones on schedules.
DAYCARES: Most likely, if your child attends daycare throughout the week, they aren't going to bother easing the kids into a new time change. This can make sleep a little wonky for young ones so the most important thing to do when you pick up your child at the end of the day, is to ask them what time your child woke from nap so you can adjust bedtime as needed. If you have a daycare who is willing to follow your schedule, talk to them Monday morning and let them know what time(s) you want them to put your child down for naps and when they can go back to their normal schedule! Every daycare is different.
GET BLACKOUT SHADES: Another tip that is helpful as we move into these spring and summer months, is to invest in blackout shades! 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 in the evening, so darkening the room can be very helpful. Even though there are extra hours of daylight children still need the same amount of sleep. Make sure the shades/curtains you buy are truly going to darken the room. Many products still let a fair amount of light in so some tricks you can use are:
Use painters' tape to tape the sides and top/bottom of the curtain to the wall.
Use painters' tape and trash bags on the window
Purchase products like Blackout EZ-Window Covers that have customizable sizes that velcro directly to your windows (I have these on every window in our bedrooms and this is an affiliate link).
BE PATIENT. BE CONSISTENT: It may take children a bit more time to fall asleep. This is normal, since the time is different initially and they may not be as tired. Good news is this is the easier of the two time changes! It usually takes about a week for children to completely adjust to the new time, some children can take up to a month. Be patient and consistent, it will happen.
If it's been longer than one week and your child is having trouble with the new time change, reach out!