Spring means Daylight Saving and with it comes longer days. This year we turn the clocks forward on Sunday, March 13, losing an hour and resetting our inner clocks for the shift in days ahead. This can be a challenge for adults and children, and takes some people a few days to adjust while others may take a week. The best thing to do is to be prepared and get a jumpstart on the shift, making a smooth transition for everyone.
With babies and toddlers, even the one-hour time change can throw off their schedule if you are not ready for it. For example, if your child normally goes to bed at 7:30 pm, that will suddenly be 8:30 pm on March 13th and your family will have some late evenings unless you already have your child’s sleep adjusted. By using the next few days to plan ahead, you can adjust bedtime gradually and have your child on the new schedule before the change even takes place.Starting tonight put your child down to bed fifteen minutes earlier than usual. Using the 7:30 bedtime, you would have your child in bed at 7:15. Each night, shift bedtime fifteen minutes earlier until you have your child going to bed a full hour before her winter bedtime.
Initially, your child may not feel sleepy or be able to settle and fall asleep as easily with this change, so make sure all the other household activities are changing as well. For example, meals should be earlier, turning the lights down in the house, turning off electronics, starting the bedtime routine. These are all the things that act as cues for your baby or child to know it’s getting close to bedtime. By dimming rooms in the house, and turning off TV’s, computers, and other such types of devices will allow your child’s body to begin the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Our child’s internal sleep clock is set by light and dark, so not only do you want to make the house dark at night in preparation for sleep, you also want to expose your child to as much sunshine and daylight as possible. This will reprogram your child’s clock and get her adjusted to this new time change.
When everyone in the house is still on schedule when Daylight Saving and March 13th arrives, you will be thanking yourself for the work you did in advance. In addition to keeping the family bedtime, mornings will not be rushed when everyone’s day starts an hour earlier. You and your child will be ready to start spring, refreshed and well rested!
Let me know if you have other tips to help kids adjust to Daylight Saving.
Angela Walsh is a Family Sleep Institute, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and the founder of Babes in Sleepland. She helps sleep deprived babies, children and families, get back on track and get the sleep they need and desire. To learn more about Angela and how she can help you, visit her website: babesinsleepland.com. Also get sleep tips, the latest research on baby and child products, and be part of her weekly Q and A at her Facebook page: Babes in Sleepland and follow her on Twitter