For most of the country, it’s time to turn the clocks ahead one hour this weekend, as we officially move to Daylight Savings Time, Sunday, March 9. Interestingly, newborns don’t seem to be affected by time changes. However, the hour change tends to take a toll on children. According to child healthcare experts, it can take kids a few days to adjust to a new sleep schedule, leaving parents with tired, cranky kids on their hands. Fortunately, there are simple tips you can follow to help your kids adjust to the change as quickly and easily as possible, so you can both get the sleep you need.
Tips for Helping Kids Adjust to Daylight Savings
- Don’t wait until Sunday to deal with the change and its consequences. Be prepared and have a plan for how you’ll help your kids adapt to the extra hour.
- Consider starting on Thursday. Drop their bedtime back 15 minutes each day so that by Sunday night, they are ready to go to bed when the clock says their usual bedtime, even if their body clock think it’s an hour early.
- If you don’t start Thursday, push bedtime back an hour Friday so kids have an extra weekend night to adjust to the change.
- Don’t try to give kids extra help getting to sleep. Keep to the usual routine, no matter the time. They may not fall asleep right away, but getting them in bed will encourage their minds and bodies to relax a little earlier.
- It’s often hard to convince kids that it’s bedtime when it’s still light outside. Try making bedrooms darker with blackout shades or blinds, or skip the nightlight.
- Don’t overstimulate kids in an attempt to tire them out for an earlier bedtime. Overtired kids often have meltdowns and trouble falling asleep, rather than falling asleep easier.
- Wake them up at their normal times. Don’t let them sleep later to make up for lost sleep.
- Same goes for naps. Stick with the usual nap times, and wake them from their nap time at a normal time.
- Falling asleep an hour earlier often means waking an hour earlier. Discourage kids from waking too early by letting them know what you feel is an acceptable time to start the day. Suggest they read in bed or play quietly until it’s time to get out of bed.
- Consider putting a digital clock in your kid’s room and letting them know when it’s ok to leave their bed in the morning. Kid sleep training clocks are especially helpful this time of year.
The best way to help kids get the sleep they need is to be regimented about bedtime and bedtime routines. Kids always benefit when they know what to expect, and can easily grasp the idea that having a bath, brushing teeth and hearing a bedtime story signals the end of the day, regardless of the time or caregiver. If you haven’t already established a bedtime routine, now is the time to do it. Both you and your kids will get the rest you need to start enjoying the longer days!