Sadly the dog days of summer with the nice light evenings have ended. The days and nights are cooling down and the leaves are beginning to change (at least in the northeast) as we harken in the end of Daylight Savings.
Beginning on November 2nd we will gain an hour. Who doesn’t love that? Just think, you get to sleep in an hour later. But wait this may not be true for parents of young children. Children don’t know the time has changed. They don’t care about sleeping later. They want to get up and see mom and dad and play no matter what time it is. So how best can we adjust our child’s sleep schedule that causes the least disruption? The best way to do this is gradually.
Starting as early as a week before (depending on your child’s age) start changing your child’s eating and sleeping schedule by 15 minutes each day or every other day. Then by the time you actually put your clocks back, you are ahead of the game. Your child already will have fully adjusted and transitioned smoothly to this new time.
Before implementing this strategy make sure your child already has a good bedtime routine and a consistent bedtime. Both these are crucial to a good night’s sleep and in turn, healthy sleep habits. They are even more important when you are making changes to your child’s schedule. We know ourselves how much better we are at handling changes when we are well rested; children are exactly like us in this regard.
The good and the bad of this time change is that we get nice light mornings, but dark early evenings. So in terms of bedtime, things shouldn’t be a problem because when it’s dark out we are able to fall asleep much easier. However, as nice as light mornings are, it could mean your child begins to rise earlier. The best way to combat this is with “black out blinds.” Use blinds that fully cover your windows and be sure to pull them down or across at bedtime. You can even make this step all part of your child’s bedtime routine. If you don’t have black out blinds you can easily make them using large black or green garbage bags and heavy duty tape. Simply put the garbage bags over the entire window and window frames and secure with the tape.
With the lighter mornings there might be a bit more activity outside making the early mornings, noisy mornings. You can easily combat this possibility with a white noise machine. Turn this on before your child goes to bed, blocking out household noises in the evening as well as those loud early birds.
If you take all these steps and your child is still waking early you may want to invest in a toddler clock. This can be set up so your child knows when they are allowed to get up in the morning.
Here are the adjustments you would make:
October 25 and 26: Make child’s mealtimes and bedtimes 15 minutes later than normal.
October 27 and 28: Adjust mealtimes and bedtime by another 15 minutes.
October 29 and 30: Adjust mealtimes and bedtime by another 15 minutes.
October 31 and November 1: Adjust mealtimes and bedtime by another 15 minutes.
You have now fully adjusted your child’s schedule by one hour just in time for the end of Daylight Savings!
And don’t forget the things you need for your child’s room:
Black out blinds
White noise machine
Toddler clock (if child is still waking too early)
Hopefully with all these tips, you will all get the luxury of having one more hour of sleep on November 2nd.
Don’t forget to turn those clocks back!!
Was this post beneficial to you? Please share some of your sleep tips for time changes.
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.