“Springing Forward” Dealing with Daylight Savings Time

I belong to A LOT of Mommy Facebook pages, and I have been seeing a lot of posts recently about how to handle the upcoming daylight saving time.  It seems a lot of people are worried about how “Springing Forward” may affect their little one’s sleep schedule, especially if it is something that they have just gotten under control!  Perhaps many of you remember it being rather difficult to recover from the last “fall back.”

Well, I can tell you that this is a time change that you really don’t need to be afraid of.  As my mentor, Deborah Pedrick, founder of the Family Sleep Institute, has said:  This is the time change that parents should embrace, especially if you child is one of those ridiculously early risers.  Even though we lose an hour, this time change is much less disruptive to our little one’s schedule.  So here a re a few tips to help you deal with this coming Sunday.

  • Springing forward for early risers – this is definitely something to get excited about!   For those that wake up super early, what would have been a 5:30 am wake up is now 6:30 am by the clock this coming Sunday. If you start your daily schedule by the clock on Sunday, this means that those of you who have the early risers can actually use this time change to your advantage and get your baby on schedule!
  • Springing forward for late risers. For the babies that are waking up a little later than most (say 7:00- 7:30 am), they’ll now be waking up an hour later.  Let’s face it, you aren’t going to put them right back down for a nap.  So what to do?  It’s best to delay nap time by at least 1 hr, but they’re likely not to be ready for 2 hrs.  So put them down between 9:30 or 10:30 am.  For the second & third nap, you’ll likely also find it is delayed by an hour or so.  Over the next couple days you’ll start putting them down about 15-20 min early to get them used to the time change.  Eventually they will begin waking up closer to their normal time.
  • Stick with your routine! If you had a late riser that is only taking one nap a day, just go by the clock and put your child down at the time that you normally would.  He/She may take longer to settle and go down, but eventually they will.  The next day, you’ll start their nap times a little earlier, and within a few days you’ll be following nap schedules by the clock again.
  • What do I do if despite the adjustments to the routine my kid still seems wiped out? The best way to know if your child is getting enough rest from the naps shows in their mood. If you feel that they really didn’t get as much restorative sleep as needed this Sunday (or any day for that matter), then try and prevent the sleep debt by putting them to sleep a little earlier.

Other tips to make the transition smooth

  • Use black out shades – With the sunrises beginning earlier, and sunsets starting later, natural sun light can interfere with the times that are ideal with our children going to bed.  Ensure the room is dark, even in the morning so they don’t become a super early riser.
  • Keep the lights dim – As mentioned earlier, the sun will be staying up later.  So use dim lights in the house early to set the tone for the bedtime routine.
  • Toddler alarm clocks or Lamp on a timer – If you have a Jack-in-the-Box who’s leaving the bedroom before it’s time to wake up, you can set a lamp on a timer or an alarm clock to the times that it’s ok to wake up.  This will help your child understand and follow the schedule.
  • White noise machine or a REALLY loud fan – Personally I love hearing birds in the morning, but some parents may find this causes their own early bird to get up too.  A white noise machine can drown out the sounds of spring if you feel it may be a problem.

As a sleep consultant, I’ll probably never be able to say it enough, but consistency is key.  Stick with your routine, and you will get your child through this time change like it never even happened!

Happy Spring Time!


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