Alright people – it is coming in hot, but we’ve still got a bit of time to get this right.
Daylight savings time is coming for us. Again. I know. Doesn’t it feel like this just happened?! No. Just me. I must be getting older.
Transitioning sleep times can be fairly straightforward, or, it can be a little bit tricky. It really depends on your specific child, how sensitive they are to change, and how sensitive YOU are to change. We know our children feel our feelings as we are connected on a cellular level. So, if changes to your child’s sleep routine cause you a little bit of worry, it might be time to start preparing for the hour where we “spring forward”, so you can take this change in stride.
The clocks will go forward one hour on Sunday, March 8th at 3:00 am in Vancouver, BC where I live. For frame of reference, 7:00 pm will become 8:00 pm, and 6:00 am will become 7:00 am.
Just like any sleep change, there are a few different techniques you can use to begin to help your child with this transition. I will outline a few below, and those that I feel are easiest for most families to follow.
For all children:
Once Sunday March 8th rolls around, treat the clocks as the true time. You may need to “push” your child ever so gently onto their new schedule, and I would advise waking your babe up at normal time to start the day. If they need to be up at 7:00 am on Monday morning to get to daycare on time, don’t let them sleep til 8:30 am on Sunday.
For infants and toddlers with a set bedtime:
You can begin making this transition as early as 4 weeks prior to the change, but we don’t exactly have that much time now do we! So we are going to do the 4 day shift method here. If your child goes to bed most evenings at 7:00 pm, begin moving their bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night. Wake them up 15 mins earlier the next day, and put them down for their naps 15 minutes earlier as well. For example;
- Night 1: 6:45 pm fast asleep
- Night 2: 6:30 pm fast asleep
- Night 3: 6:15 pm fast asleep
- Night 4: 6:00 pm (which will become the new 7:00 pm on March 8th)
As you can probably see – this is NOT going to work out, if you have been letting your child sleep til their normal start time in the morning, and napping them at their regular nap times as well. They won’t be tired when that slightly earlier bedtime rolls around, and they are going to fall asleep right at their usual time.
When we schedule shift, we really move the whole schedule. Not just bits and pieces of it.
Work on slowly moving the time up with each passing night until you arrive at a bedtime one hour earlier than your usual bedtime, prior to the change. Approach naps a little earlier, and wake your child to start the day at an ideal time if necessary.
For infants and toddlers with a somewhat flexible bedtime:
My advice on this one is to also be somewhat flexible. The few days before the time change, begin moving their daily naps slightly earlier.
This really depends again on how time sensitive your child is. Some babies will respond super well to having their naps moved up by 15 mins every few days, and an older toddler might not notice this change in the slightest.
Move bedtime up by the same amount of time that day, and you should be able to adjust to the new time within 2 – 4 days.
If your child typically goes to bed between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm each night, aim for the earlier time over the course of a few days leading up to the change, and then somewhere in the middle of that hour for the few days following the change.
For example; the week before the time change bedtime is closer to 6:15, or 6:30 pm, and the week after the change bedtime is closer to 7:15 or 7:30 pm. You can then begin moving this time up if it still is not suitable to your schedule.
Yeah. So. I didn’t plan and now my kid is going to bed at 10:00 pm. Now what?!
If you’re reading this March 9th after your child was up til 10:00 pm the night before, my best advice is to relax. Do get your child up at the wake-up time you expect tomorrow morning, and they should make the transition on their own within 3 – 4 days. But remember this – the best place to counter a later than preferred bedtime is in the MORNING!! Not, at night.
Older children tend to make this transition quite seamlessly by going by what the clock says. But all children WILL find their groove within 7 – 10 days for sure.
Lastly, get your child outside first thing in the morning for a few days after the change for some fresh air and natural light. This will also help re-set their biological clock and the fresh air will help achieve good naps, and easier sleep that day. Not to mention, the whole point here is that we get to enjoy a little more light later into the evening!
Thank you to Stacie-Lynn for the beautiful photo featured here.