We all love the longer daytime hours that come with Daylight Saving Time, but it can be a real struggle to adjust our children’s sleep habits. "Springing forward" is generally easier than "falling back,” and any change in your child’s routine can be a difficult one. While it’s best to start prepping your child before the time change starts, there are still things you can do after the time change occurs to get your child back on track.
1. Adjust your child’s nap time
Instead of immediately making the switch to new naptimes, split the difference. Adjust the morning and afternoon naps by 30 minutes to begin with and add another 30 minutes by the third day. By the end of the week your little one should easily switch over to the new schedule.
2. Reset her internal clock
Help your little one reset her body clock by exposing her to light upon waking and keeping her room dark when it’s time to sleep. Sleep is regulated by our circadian rhythm (our body’s internal clock) and that clock is regulated by light and darkness. Exposing your little one to light and darkness that is consistent with the new clock will speed up the change.
3. Change bedtime in shifts
If bedtime is usually 7:00 PM, put your child to bed at 7:30 PM for the first three days following the time change. Remember that 7:30 feels like 6:30 to your child. Go back to a 7:00 PM bedtime on the fourth day. It will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this adjustment.
4. Teach your child about time
Consider taking this opportunity to teach pre-school children to read a clock. If you have children over the age of two, this is an ideal time to boost independence by adding a digital clock to their sleep environment. Spend time teaching them the numbers six and seven. Draw, colour, trace, cut, or make up a little story about Sleepy Six and SleepWell Special Seven. Be creative to get your children interested in the numbers.
5. Keep things consistent
Remember that children thrive when parents provide a structured environment and dealing with the time change is no different. Keeping your everyday routines consistent will help your little one make the adjustment. Structure your day with regular playtimes, mealtimes and pre-sleep routines all according to the new time.
6. Create a good sleep environment
Keep your child’s room comfortable and invest in some blackout shades to block out the sun in the morning and early evening. A humidifier or white noise machine can also provide a gentle, humming sound that soothes your child to sleep and blocks out any distracting noises.
Overall, make sure your child stays well rested during this change in his or her routine and make slow adjustments instead of big, sudden changes. Also remember to keep your child exposed to lots of sunlight during the day to help adjust their circadian rhythm. Things will fall into place once your child’s body gets used to the hour shift.