By Expert Contributor Katie Kovaleski
Typically, the idea of time falling back an hour leaves one feeling happy and excited for that extra hour of sleep. For all you parents who know better I can see you shaking your heads. This time of year brings cooler weather, costumes and candy and this is just the prequel to the rest of the holiday season.
Don’t fret; none of those things dictate that your children will be waking an hour earlier for the rest of the season. The end of Daylight saving time is the easiest and one of the only unavoidable challenges that parents can plan for, face head on and defeat when it comes to protecting their children’s sleep. Follow my tips below to minimize the impact of this time change on your child’s sleep schedule and ensure your entire family sleeps well this holiday season.
Before we get into the details of daylight saving time tips, it’s important to remember that maintaining general sleep hygiene can go a long way in making sleep schedule changes easy on the whole family.
- Keep your child’s room at a cool temperature, we recommend between 68-72 degrees
- Make sure their room is very dark, use black out curtains and shades to achieve at least an 8 on a scale of 1-10
- Help their natural rhythms develop by getting them out into the fresh air and sunshine as much as possible. This is the easiest way to help their body clocks re-set naturally.
- Review your sleep schedules and training methods in case you need to use them for any sleep disruptions the time change may cause.
Daylight Saving Time Tips For Children That Nap:
Moving the schedule forward in increments:
I always recommend erring on the side of caution if you have a sleep sensitive child. For the sensitive sleepers, start preparing about 10-12 days before the time change by moving every piece of their schedule forward by 10 minutes every two days.
Moving the sleep schedule up also means changing those meal times. Start moving each meal up by 10 minutes every 2 days as well and that will help the sleep schedule shift naturally.
Naps will begin 10 minutes later every 2 days. If you find that once you are 5-6 days in and starting naps 30 minutes from your normal start time is too much, pull back and stick with whatever start time is working. Then slowly start moving forward again.
Bedtime will also need to be moved up slowly prior to the change. Again, push it 10 minutes later each night until the time change occurs and you are putting them down at the correct bedtime.
Don’t worry about moving the wake time up, as it’s typically not something we worry about controlling unless your child has a tendency to sleep past 7am. We always recommend waking the little ones who still nap by 7am in order to protect the rest of the day’s sleep schedule.
Once the time change has occurred, if your baby is waking up much earlier than usual, shift back into sleep training mode and do not get them out of the crib until at least 6am. Any waking before 5am should be treated as night waking and can be responded to with whatever sleep training method you are comfortable with. I recommend using a method for about a week to get your child back to their normal wake time.
Daylight Saving Time Tips For Children That Do Not Nap:
If your child is waking up earlier once the clocks change, shift their bedtime to a half hour earlier, once they start waking at their normal wake time again, you can move bedtime back to 30 minutes later.
**Remember, especially for children who do not nap but for all those ages two and above, a wake clock is a great way to keep your child on schedule, especially when it’s dark outside for wake time.
Some great sleep clocks include:
– American Innovative Teach Me Time Talking Alarm Clock and Nightlight
– My tot clock
– Gro Clock
– Sleep Buddy
– Stoplight sleep enhancing alarm clock
**Official reminder- Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 2am.**