It’s one of the most dreaded times of the year: the clocks change, time springs forward and we all lose an hour of sleep. Parents of little ones tend to feel it more acutely than those without children. A child’s internal clock simply doesn’t care about the time change!
Perhaps your child recently established a healthy sleep schedule, or maybe you are still struggling to get your kiddo the sleep they need. Don’t worry, springing forward is much easier on babies and kids than falling back in the Fall. Regardless of your situation, here are three ways you can handle the dreaded time change:
Option 1 – Early Bird. If you are happy with your child’s current schedule and want to keep them on it, wake them an hour earlier on the day of the time change, just not before 6 am. This will keep them chugging along with not much change in their schedule. Just be mindful that they have lost an hour of sleep and you are waking them earlier. You will want to make sure you really nail their naps and bedtime so they are getting all the sleep they need.
Option 2 – Divide and Conquer. If your kids are already on a later nap and bedtime schedule, this is the best choice for you. On the day of the time change, wake them up 30 minutes earlier than you normally do. The reason for using this option for is to avoid a later nap and bedtime for kids who are already on a later schedule. Waking them 30 minutes earlier won’t take away much of their restorative night sleep.
Option 3 – Don’t do anything. This is the option I use for my son. If your child currently sleeps from 6:30 pm to 6:30 am, once the time falls back they will naturally have a new wake-up time of 7:30 am. The good news is that you will get to sleep in for a few days while your child is sleeping until 7:30 am. Rejoice parents of early risers! However, the effects of the time change will most likely last for just a few days to a week; then you babe will be back to waking up at 6:30 am.
Lots of sunlight during your child’s waketimes, specifically early morning and late afternoon, will aid them with the transition over the course of the first week. If your children are already on a healthy sleep routine, it is best to avoid making any changes. Simply follow one of the options above to make the transition as smooth as possible.
If your child is not a healthy sleep schedule, after the time change might be an appropriate time to make the necessary changes to get them on a healthy sleep schedule, along with good nap and bedtime routines.
Remember the effects of the time change will last only a couple of days. (Sorry, parents of earlier risers!)
If you are interested in what a healthy sleep schedule looks like, feel free to contact me! My goal is to empower families who feel powerless in their family’s current sleep situation.