It’s that time again: the “Spring Forward” 2017 Time change. In the US, we will turn our clocks ahead one hour this weekend at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 12th, 2017. If you are in Europe, Daylight Saving Time will begin on March 26th, 2017.
I am looking forward to the extra daylight and a dose of Vitamin D from the sunshine. As with all time changes, the family shouldbe prepared and expect some sleep disruptions and have tips and strategies on how to tackle it all.
If you employ these tips, it will be easier for your to support your little ones through their own transition
Tips for Parents:
- Eliminate all caffeine after 1:30 p.m. this week in order to make it easier to go to bed earlier.
- If possible, also avoid alcohol this weekend, which negatively affects sleep.
- Go to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual on the Thursday 3/9/17
- On Friday 3/10/17 go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual.
- On Saturday try to go to bed 45 minutes earlier than your usual bedtime (notice a pattern?).
This time change can often be very difficult for children. After all, imagine being used to a 7pm bedtime and now it’s been moved to what your body feels is 6pm!.
Be patient as it does take the body 7-9 days for the natural circadian rhythm to get back on track.
To make the transition easier, I have outlined some tips to help your baby or toddler make a gentle change. Don’t worry. There are a couple of ways to tackle this transition and you can choose the one that suits your style and your child’s needs the best.
· Before the time change…be diligent that your child is getting adequate naps so that they aren’t overtired.
· Be prepared for your baby’s bedtime to feel earlier, since it actually is earlier. Remember, we’re jumping ahead a full hour, so what used to be 6:00 p.m. is now 7:00 p.m. (but it will still feel like 6:00 p.m. to your baby).
· Exposure to morning light can help the body “reset” the circadian rhythm. If it’s too cold, open the windows and let in some natural light. Try to get at least thirty minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning for that initial week to help your body tune into the time change.
I recommend that you choose between two transition methods for Daylight Savings Time.
Transition Method 1: Pretend that Nothing Has Changed.
· Best Method for Families with children with “early rising” tendencies (up before 6am)
· Best Method for busy Parents who already feel “rushed” at bedtime.
If you have a child that actually wakes up before 6am, than this may be the right method for you. This method is probably the easiest for most families, as you will follow your daily routine according to the clock, but everything will be pushed ahead one hour.
If you choose this method do the following:
· Move your clock ahead an hour on Saturday night, and proceed with your normal day Sunday.
o Note: be aware that following this “do nothing approach” means your child will lose an hour, which has the potential to create a struggle at bedtime, because bedtime will be a full hour earlier than it was last night.
· Because your baby or toddler is not aware that the time has changed, they will wake up at their normal time (hopefully), but instead of 6:00 a.m., it will be 7:00 a.m. (see what I mean about solving that pesky early rising issue?).
o However, don't let your child sleep past 7:30 or 8am or else bedtime will be harder.
· Proceed with your normal day, and be sure that your meals and naps, and bedtime are at the appropriate time (you may have to watch the clock).
Remember that your baby will be going to bed at their “regular time”. For example, if your baby is used to a 7:00 p.m. bedtime, put them to bed at the NEW 7:00 p.m. (which was previously 6:00 p.m.). It is very possible that meals and naps will fall into place naturally with this method, but be prepared that your child may not actually be tired at bedtime yet. Remember, they don’t understand why they’ve lost an hour, and it’s suddenly still light out at bedtime, so you may have to be a bit flexible or now might be the time to install those room darkening shades.
This method of adjustment seldom takes more than a week!
Transition Method 2: Make DAILY adjustments
· Best for families that know the time change will be hard on their kiddo
· Best for families who feel more secure when they “plan in advance”
- About 5-7 days before the time change, begin putting your child to bed 10-20 minutes earlier, moving the time back every day or few days until you reach a full hour. So, if your child has a 7:00 p.m. bedtime, you want to begin with bedtime at 6:40 p.m. ,then 6:20 p.m., then 6:00 p.m.
- Be consistent as possible with your baby’s food and sleep schedule. This means that you need to shift all meals, snacks, and naps a half hour earlier as well.
- Watch the clock to stay on the new schedule of 30 minutes earlier.
- Don’t forget to wake your child a bit earlier to help with this transition schedule.
- After about a week, your child should be back at their 7:00 p.m. bedtime.
- Adjust all meals, snacks, and naps to fit the “new” schedule on the same day that you shift to your child’s new, fully-adjusted bedtime.
Here is an example: If your baby or toddler’s bedtime is 7 pm, it will look like this:
- Tuesday 3/7/17 : 6:50 pm bedtime
- Wednesday 3/8/17 : 6:40 pm bedtime
- Thursday 3/9/17: 6:30 pm bedtime
- Friday: 3/10/17 6:20 pm bedtime
- Saturday 3/11/17: 6:10 pm bedtime
- Sunday 3/12/17: 7 pm bedtime (new time—old time will be 6 pm)
Keep in mind that the goal is to be back to your baby’s normal bedtime (and routine) in just a few days (some children may take a bit longer, so don’t fret if your child takes a week or so).
Whichever method you choose, it’s important to remember that your baby’s internal clock is used to Standard Time. You may need to revert to some sleep training methods for a few days to help ease the time change. “Springing forward” also means that nights are shorter, which may be an issue for some children who are used to dark winter nights. Remember, every child is different, and your little one will adjust, but don’t fret if it’s not overnight (some toddlers can take a few weeks to adjust!). Prepare for the transition to take a few days, and watch for those sleep cues that will tell you when your child is tired and ready to sleep!
Overview On How To Handle Daylight Saving Time:
· Decide which Daylight Savings sleep transition method you want to use to help your child adjust.
· Take your baby’s internal clock into account and watch for sleepy cues.
· Check to see if light is an issue, and consider purchasing room-darkening shades for bedtime, but also expose them to morning light in that first week to “reset” their internal clock.
· Most importantly, be flexible and patient. A time change is often hard on kids and adults alike. Readjustment can take about 5-7 days. Just be mindful of the clock and your schedule.
· Keep evening plans calm and watch for sleepy cues. Dim the lights in house and avoid screen-time that can be too stimulating.
· If needed, use your preferred sleep training method to help encourage sleep and help your baby get the rest he/she needs.