For most parents, Daylight Savings Time is down-right frightening, particularly when we “fall back”. Fear not, if you prepare a few days before the actual time change, most babies and children can adjust easily. Here are a some sleep tips when turning back the clock.
If your child’s bedtime is at 7 p.m. then opt for 7:30 p.m. for the first day or two. (Remember, babies and children younger than two or three can’t tell time, so they won’t know the difference). Once your child has adjusted to the later bedtime, inch it later by 15 minute increments over the next day or two, easing your child back to her regular bedtime.
If you can't start earlier then November 5th due to busy schedules, don't worry! Start when the time changes and plan for a few days to adjust. Your child may be a bit more “tired/wired” at bedtime and need some extra time winding down. This is only temporary and should improve after the first week of the clock changing.
Morning Wake Up:
Here is the difficult part of the time change for parents... early morning wake-up calls. What should be an annual gift to tired parents (7 a.m. is now a glorious 6 a.m.) is frequently anything but. A child who routinely wakes up at 6 a.m. will, in most likelihood, wake up at 5 a.m. for the first week or so. For babies and children still in a crib—“WALK DON’T RUN!”. When you hear him waking up, wait 15 minutes before going in. Add 10 minutes every two days or so before you go to your child. Keep in mind that wake up times after turning back the clock are more challenging for your child then bedtime. Babies and children are biologically programmed to wake up early. By 6 a.m. (or in this case 5 a.m.) they have had a full night’s sleep and are ready to start their day!
For toddlers or children using a glow-clock, make sure it is set to “glow off” a half-hour later than before you re-set your clock (i.e. set it for 7:30 a.m. rather than 7 a.m.). Do this until your child is sleeping until the light goes on. Proceed to add 15 minutes each day or two until your child is waking up at their regular morning time.
As if naps weren’t hard enough already! You can be fairly certain that naps will take the brunt of the time change. For babies not yet on a “two-nap-a-day” schedule, keep the periods of wakefulness between naps identical to what they were before the clock change. If your baby, for instance, gets routinely tired after an hour and 25 minutes after waking, don’t try to stretch it longer. (in an attempt to keep them on the same number of naps during the day). For the first few days after the time change, your baby might need to take an additional nap or two to make it comfortably to bedtime without getting over-tired. This is only temporary. Once your baby is waking up at their usual time in the morning, their naps will fall back into place.
If your child is old enough to be napping on a consistent, clock-based schedule, aim to nap them about 30 minutes before their regular nap time ( first nap at 8:30 a.m. vs. 9:00 a.m. and second nap at 12:30 p.m. rather than 1:00 p.m.) Don’t forget that your child was up an hour earlier (5 a.m. rather than 6 a.m.) so he will probably be ready to nap earlier as well. If your child looks totally exhausted an hour before their usual nap time, put them down and ease the nap up by 10-15 minute increments until they resume their normal nap schedule.
Just remember Sunday, November 5th at 2:00am to change your clocks back one hour! Try to ignore the fact that the time has changed. Your child will adjust easily if you don't rush things on them. If you prepare ahead of time, the fear of Daylight Savings time won't be so scary after all.