Editor's Note: Irene Gouge, a local mom and sleep expert with Loving Lessons Pediatric Sleeping Consulting, shares these tips for helping your kids get to sleep as we spring the clocks forward an hour this weekend for Daylight Saving Time. It begins at 2 a.m., Sunday, March 8.
It’s that time of year again! Daylight Saving Time is March 8 where we will be moving the clock forward for some of that extra daytime sunshine!
I’m going to share a couple of approaches that can be helpful to make the transition a little smoother for your child and help you know what to expect when you spring forward!
Daylight Saving Time is tough on everyone because we are shifting our internal clock, the circadian rhythm that is really rigid, by more than 30 minutes.
Most children ages 6 and younger will normally wake sometime between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. in the morning. Usually, children 2 and younger will be most affected by the time change. The good news is that if your baby, toddler, or preschooler is waking up too early, this could be a good time to make the shift to that later morning wake up.
You might be wondering how to make the shift in your home? Parents have a couple of options.
One approach to a more restful Daylight Saving Time transition is to keep bedtime the same.
Put your child to sleep at the regular bedtime on Saturday night. Then, go ahead and move your clock one hour ahead. Hopefully your child’s body clock is already set so if they normally wake at 6 a.m. in the morning, now it will be 7 a.m. on the new time. This can really work in your favor. On Sunday, continue your regular routine on the new time
At bedtime put your child down at their normal bedtime. If your child normally has a 7 p.m. bedtime, they might not be as tired because it’s actually 6 p.m. on the old time. Be patient and flexible. Our children don’t understand time and clocks and how all of this works. You might even consider using the shuffle or other gentle sleep methods to help your baby or toddler fall asleep.
Usually it takes a little less than a week to transition with this approach.
Another option for transitioning back to a regular bedtime during Daylight Saving Time is to split the time.
This can be helpful if your child has a little more difficult time or is sensitive to transitions. You can start this approach about a week before the official time change. You’ll plan to split the difference for bedtime.
Here’s what that might look like: If bedtime is normally 7 p.m., shift it to 7:30 p.m. for the new time. With this option, you're not throwing your child off by a full hour. You'll be gradually making the shift.
After the time change, you ‘ll need to adjust naps and meals. If your child is going down for her afternoon nap at 12:30 p.m., then put her down at 1 p.m. while making the transition. After a few days, adjust back to the 7 p.m. bedtime.
The goal of course with either approach is to get your child back on track to their regular bedtime! And whatever approach you use to help you with Daylight Saving Time, allow about 5 to 7 days for your child to make the transition.
You are your child’s best expert. So only you know the best way to make springing forward an easy transition for your family.
Irene Gouge is a Triangle mom of two and founder of Loving Lessons Pediatric Sleep Consulting. Do you have sleep questions or concerns for your six-year-old or younger child? The Loving Lessons website has all kinds of advice and more information about how Gouge can help you.