As daylight saving approaches, most of us look forward to an extra hour of daylight, which will mean warmer weather and a longer day. Although our clocks only change on the October 2nd, I am already receiving calls from anxious parents worried about how that extra hour will throw their child’s schedules and disrupt their sleep.
Whether your child is a good sleeper or not, you should have a plan to make the transition a smooth one.
1. Gradual method:
This approach is less drastic and is helpful for children that may be more sensitive to change or disrupted schedules, or the kind of children that tend to wake up on the early side.
Starting just a few days before the time change, move your child’s bedtime earlier by 15 minutes each day so that by the time you get to Saturday night, he is going to sleep a full hour earlier.
For example, if your child normally goes to bed at 6:30pm, put him down at 6:15pm. For example on Friday night put child to sleep at 6:15pm on Saturday night 6:45pm and on Sunday scheduled sleep time of 6:30pm. Remember, these times assume “clock” time, not your child’s internal clock.
You can also apply this method to nap times and meal times in gradual 15-minute increments.
2. Adjust as you go:
After your child goes to bed on Saturday, simply change the clock an hour ahead and follow your child’s regular schedule according to the “new time” on Sunday (which will be an hour ahead).
This is great for parents whose child has been waking at 5.30am will now wake at 6.30am How good is that your early raiser is now waking at an acceptable time, problem solved.
Switch all meals, activities and naps to the new time as well. Your child’s wake up times may be a bit off for a few days, but don’t worry, they will adjust. Try not to start the day before 6:00am if possible.
Bedtime may be a struggle to start with if you choose this option. If your child normally goes to bed at 6.30pm, (before we changed the clock was 5:30pm), your child may not be tired and ready for sleep at that time. Hang in there. Stick to your child’s normal bedtime routine and make sure that their bedroom is “sleep-friendly,” complete with room darkening shades.
You should notice that your child’s internal clock will adjust to this new time within a week.
Tips to help when switching to Daylight Savings Time:
About Cheryl Fingleson
Cheryl works with families across a range of areas, including settling and sleep techniques, establishing a good routine, discipline in the home, transition from cot to bed, potty training, safe co-sleeping, and identifying signs of post-natal depression. Cheryl wants parents to know that they don’t have to feel like they’re struggling through the journey on their own, and can get help from a trained professional.
Cheryl is available for home visits and Skype consultations.