On Sunday, November 3rd, we’ll set our clocks back one hour. The end of Daylight Savings Time was probably a non-event before you had children. In fact, you most likely couldn’t wait to have that extra hour of sleep when you were a teenager or younger adult. If you are still not convinced it’s a big deal, consider this: unlike teenagers and adults who often relish at the opportunity to sleep in, a baby who normally wakes for the day at 5:30am will soon rouse you awake at 4:30am according to the new clock time – yikes!
Remember, if you do NOTHING to prepare for the time change, be prepared for your child to want to go to sleep one hour earlier according to the clock and wake up one hour earlier as well. Children have a very strong internal clock, so getting them acclimated to a new bedtime and wake time is something that should be implemented gradually.
If you’re wondering how to help your child adjust to the time change or to prevent them from waking up extra early, now is the best time to prepare! Follow these tips to reduce the likelihood of seeing your toddler or baby wide awake an hour early next week.
Step 1: In the week leading up to November 3, put your baby or toddler to bed 10-15 minutes later each night. If he usually goes to bed at 8pm, put him to bed at 8:10pm the first night, 8:20pm the second night, 8:30pm the third night and so forth until you have moved his bedtime forward one hour. That way, when the clocks change, you will have him in bed at 8pm again. (Adjust the time increments according to the day you begin).
Step 2: Try making the room darker the next morning for an additional hour. This will help set his circadian rhythm to the new, later time he’ll need to wake to keep his schedule consistent. When they wake up, try going into their room, rubbing their back, cuddling, singing lullabies, telling stories or another calm. When the hour is over, turn on the lights and actively start your day. In other words, you are keeping your child in the dim light until your new target wake up time.
Step 3: Continue implementation of the first two steps. Shift bedtime 10-15 minutes each evening, and continue the dim lighting in the morning until the target time. As bedtimes shift later and mornings stay dark, you’ll see morning sleep start to lengthen. Then, when DST arrives, you’ll be right where you started!
Step 4: Don’t expect your child’s sleep schedule to be perfectly on track on Nov. 3rd. Expect at least 3 additional days for these light and dark reinforcements to take effect.
Step 5. Adjust nap time. On the same days you are adjusting bedtime by 10-15 minutes, also adjust naptime by those same increments. Meal can stay in sync with “clock time” initially, but eventually you will need to gradually shift them as well.
Overall, waking up too early is a very common issue for children and infants during the fall season, and these tips can help your child adjust easier and sleep in a little later. Generally speaking, it takes about a week after the clocks have changed for everyone, no matter what age, to be in a new sleeping pattern. Try to be patient if you have a tired, grumpy child or fussy baby on your hands in the days following the time change.
Still Need Help?
If you find that getting your baby or toddler acclimated to the time change or a proper sleep schedule in general is still a challenge, Motherhood Center is here to help! Our Sleep Coaching services provide you with the tools and support needed to get your baby or toddler on a proper sleep, feeding and nap schedule.
For more information on Sleep Coach Packages & Pricing: 713-963-8880 ext 104 or visit https://www.motherhoodnetwork.com/sleep-coach/