It’s that time again: the “Spring Forward” 2018 Time change. In the US, we will turn our clocks ahead one hour at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 11th, 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 should be 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. the week of March 5 in order to make it easier to go to bed earlier.
If possible, also avoid alcohol the weekend of March 10/11 which negatively affects sleep.
Go to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual on the Thursday 3/8/18
On Friday 3/9/18 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 3/6/17 : 6:50 pm bedtime
Wednesday 3/7/17 : 6:40 pm bedtime
Thursday 3/8/17: 6:30 pm bedtime
Friday: 3/9/17 6:20 pm bedtime
Saturday 3/10/17: 6:10 pm bedtime
Sunday 3/11/17: 7 pm bedtime (new time—old time will be 6 pm)