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How To Handle Sleep & Daylight Savings

It’s that time of year again. The day we all dread. Daylight Savings or “Fall Back.” One hour behind.  For the older kids it doesn’t really seem to affect much, but it can really throw the younger ones off. So while it’s still a few weeks away, you can start thinking and preparing so that the change isn’t so drastic on all of you.

You can take two different approaches:

1. Deal with it when it comes:

  • On Saturday night, put your child to bed at his regular bedtime.
  • On Sunday, when he wakes up with the new time you will need to immediately adjust his schedule according to the new time.
  • So while he did “wake up an hour early” stretching him to the new naptime might be a little hard. Try your best to distract him and get him to take his nap to as close to the new time as possible.
  • If you can’t adjust to the schedule on day one, try your best to slowly push it over in 15-minute increments, over the course of the next few days.

2. Prepare a few days before:

  • Slowly adjust your child’s bedtime and nap times an hour later by 15 minutes a day, the week before Daylight Savings. This way, your child will already be adjusted to the time change when it comes.
  • While you’re adjusting naps and bedtime, make sure that you also adjust mealtimes in 15-minute increments to help ease the transition.

However, once Daylight Savings hits:

  1.  Make sure to block sunlight & noise: If you don’t already have them in your child’s room, consider installing blackout curtains and using a white noise machine. Although the days are getting shorter, there may still be some sunlight coming in the morning, as well as some outside noise during bedtime.
  2. Dramatic Wake up and Toddler Clocks: Teaching your child about time might be a little hard when they are young. If you are constantly relying on the actual sun and moon to teach your child about sleep, it may get a little confusing with the time change. Dramatic wake up is a good method to help your child learn that the day has begun, even if they woke up early and didn’t go back to sleep. Behavioral Clocks are suggested for children over the age of 2 ½, as it helps them understand when its time to get up and start the day, and when it’s time for bed.
  3. Sunlight: Make sure that you expose your child to lots of natural light first thing in the morning to help rest his circadian rhythm to coincide with the new time. Try going for a morning walk, or even just opening the blinds. Make sure to keep the blinds open up to 45 minutes before nap and bedtime to help your child adjust to the new time.
  4. Stick to your schedule: Even though things may seem a little off whack, try your best to stick to your regular schedule according to the new time. The consistency of your daily routine is important for your child to adjust.

Keep in mind that it can take some children up to a week to adjust to this time change. Children who are very sensitive to change or have sensory issues may need a more gradual adjustment as well. Be patient but keep working on adjusting them to the new time. Good luck!