Spring Daylight Savings – Tips to Save Your Child’s Sleep
Before becoming a parent I looked forward to the time change…more daylight meant more “me” time every day! Enter my sensitive child whose world (and sleep) is rocked by the smallest of time shifts. Look forward no more. While the Spring change is not quite as disruptive as the Fall one, it can leave your family feeling “off” for a time. Don’t panic! Even the most sensitive children can adjust. Here are some tips to help your family prepare and survive.
• An overtired child has a harder time adjusting and coping with change. Make a special effort in the days approaching the time shift to ensure that your child gets adequate naps.
• When the clocks change be sure to head outside with your baby first thing in the morning or at least open the curtains and let in the natural light. Early morning exposure to natural light helps to set your baby’s internal clock and adjust to the change. Aim for 30 minutes of sunlight each morning for about a week following the change.
There are two ways to approach Daylight Savings. You can proceed with your day as usual, jumping straight to the new clock or, for more sensitive or overtired children, adjust gradually.
Transition Method 1: Proceed As Usual. If your child is generally well rested and not overly sensitive, you can wake up on Sunday morning and proceed as if nothing has changed. Offer meals and naps at the same times on the new clock as you were before. Keep in mind, however, that everything will feel a full hour earlier to your child (because it is!) so there is a potential for a bit of a struggle falling asleep. For example, if bedtime is usually 7 p.m. you would put baby down at 7 p.m. on the new clock but it will feel like 6 p.m. to her. As a result, she may not be quite tired at bedtime. You may need to be a bit more flexible and offer some extra support at bedtime but with this method she should adjust rather quickly – typically within a week. Transition Method 2: Shift to the New Clock Gradually. If your baby is already overtired or tends to be more sensitive to timing, you may need to gradually adjust to the new clock. For this child I recommend splitting the difference. This means that if bedtime is typically at 7 p.m. put him to bed at 7:30 for a few days and then shift back to 7. Remember that bedtime feels a full hour early to your child so splitting the difference in this way can help minimize a bedtime struggle. With this approach you need to be sure to shift everything during the day 30 minutes later including naps and meals. So a baby who naps at noon will be napping at 12:30 for the first few days after the time change and then shift back to 12. The goal is to get back to your regular timing on the new clock within a few days. Regardless of which approach you take, be prepared that the days and nights will feel a little strange to your baby who can’t really understand what is going on. Be prepared to offer some additional support at bedtime and don’t stress if your child doesn’t adjust quickly. While most adjust within a few days, some can take a few weeks to fully adjust! And remember that springing forward can mean daylight at bedtime which can interfere with your child’s ability to fall asleep. Don’t fall into the trap of shifting bedtime later waiting for it to grow dark. Instead, consider purchasing room darkening shades or blackout curtains to keep your little one on track. With all these tips Daylight Savings can be something to look forward to again… Or at least something you can survive!
Erica Desper founded Confident Parenting in 2012, as a certified baby and child sleep coach offering private counseling for families in the greater Philadelphia area. Her sleep-saving approach is offered through a variety of packages, including unlimited text and email support. Erica has supported hundreds of families in and around the Philadelphia area and internationally to improve the quality of their families’ sleep. She is also mom to son, Jaiden who, as an infant, was very good at crying and not very skilled in sleeping! For more information visit www.beaconfidentparent.com.