Is it just me or did we not just turn the clocks back?
If there is one thing I have learned as a parent it is that time sure does fly. Don’t get me wrong, the days can be long (especially in the winter with it’s dreary 4 PM sunset), but the years are short…or in this case the seasons!
That’s right, spring is on the way and with it the start of Daylight Savings Time! Are you ready to spring ahead on Sunday, March 8?
While losing an hour of sleep to us parents is just another day in the life, a time change can really wreak havoc on a little one’s schedule. Here is how to make the transition as smoothly as possible:
If your child is taking one nap or none at all you will want to go ahead and switch everything (waketime, nap time, bed time, and meal times) to the new time “cold turkey.” This may mean you will have to wake your little one to keep them at their normal waketime for a few days, but that’s ok! The old adage “never wake a sleeping baby” holds little truth.
If your little one is taking two or more naps you will find more success with a gradual shift to their schedule! By spreading out the hour time difference over the course of several days you may find yourself with less of a struggle!
If your child’s typical schedule is:
- Nap 1: 9am
- Nap 2: 12pm
- Nap 3: 3pm
- Bedtime: 7pm
On Sunday, March 8th it will change to
- Nap 1: 9:30
- Nap 2: 12:30
- Nap 3: 3:30pm
- Bedtime 7:30pm
After 3 days (on Wednesday, March 11) you will subtract the remaining thirty minutes leaving your little sleeper with their old schedule, according to the new clock time.
This approach works well with sensitive sleepers too, regardless of how many naps they are taking! (You can learn more about sensitive sleepers on our podcast.)
Consistency is key!
Regardless of your approach, it is very important to stay consistent in your regular daily routine – this includes the timing, but also the activities.
If you always have breakfast before Nap 1, lunch before Nap 2, snack before Nap 3, and dinner, bath and a book before Bedtime – make sure this is still your routine!
These regular parts of your child’s day actually act as cues telling their brain that sleep is coming next. Keeping them consistent will help their bodies adjust even more quickly.
Use your environment to your advantage!
To help reset your child’s internal clock you’ll want to use natural light to your advantage. Open the blinds and let the sunshine in. If weather permits, get outside in the first half of the day for fresh air and vitamin D.
In the evening, you will need to help calm their bodies and minds earlier. Close the blinds, dim the lights, avoid screens, and keep activity level as calm as possible!
If you haven’t already, invest in blackout curtains and/or blinds to help keep your little one’s room dark regardless of when the sun sets (or rises) to keep their room conducive to healthy, restorative sleep.
With longer days and more sun – you may need to adjust your child’s schedule and sleep space, but not your routine! Consistency is key. Keep the elements of your day and your commitment to your plan in place and within a few days your family will settle fully into the new time!
If during this transition your little one starts to wake early in the morning (before 6:00 AM) it is probably a result of being overtired. Put them to bed earlier (not later) to help them catch up on any missed sleep!
This post was written by Ashley Chanter Rizzo, certified pediatric sleep consultant and director of Well Rested Baby. Ashley is the proud mama of two sets of twins! Sleep makes her life possible and she has made it her mission to help families, like yours, develop a healthy sleep foundation in their home so that they too can live life how it was meant to be lived – well rested.
Have additional questions about your child’s sleep? Contact Ashley at Well Rested Baby!