At this time of year we start to dream about spring, but parents who have gone through the ups and downs of sleep training their babies know that this can also bring anxiety with the change of clocks. If you currently have your baby or toddler in a consistent sleep schedule, don't lose hope. Some children seamlessly transition to the new sleep routine, while others need a bit of extra encouragement (and tricks) from mom and dad. You will be celebrating that "Full Sleep" developmental milestone, for the first time or again, in no time!
Kim Davis, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and owner of Babes and Beyond, provides the following advice to help transition your child during Daylight saving:
Sleep is regulated by our circadian rhythm (or body clock), which is regulated by darkness and light. Sometimes the one hour time change can play havoc on your child's bedtime because their circadian rhythms are being challenged with it being lighter outside when it is time for bed.
Tip: You will want to make sure your child's bedroom is conducive to sleep; using black out curtains or blinds to block out the bright sunshine, using a sound machine to drown out early morning noises and for the toddlers, a wake-up clock. If your older child uses a wake-up clock, you can set the new time an hour later with the plan that they will stay in their room until the clock indicates it's time to rise. Make sure that you set the expectations accordingly, since these tools will only work if you are consistent.
There are a couple of avenues you can take, depending on your child's sensitivity to change, so let's explore those avenues:
#1 - Slow Transition
This avenue will help the time sensitive child gradually adjust to the new time change. By starting a few days before the time change actually occurs, you can limit the impact the hour is going to have on your child. If your child's normal wake time for the day is 7am, change it to 6:45am on the first day. Slowly increase the wake time by using 15 minute intervals until you have reached the desired time. By doing this BEFORE the time change occurs, your child will be already used to the new timing with little disruption. Ideally, you want to shift your child's entire daytime schedule by 15 minutes.
#2 - Do Nothing
This avenue would be for the child that is not time sensitive and is able to handle the time change with ease. For families that are happy with their child's sleep schedule, simply keep morning wake up and bedtime the same using the new adjusted time. You will want to wake your child at their usual time the next morning (Sunday) and carry on the day as you would normally. It may take a few days for your child to adjust but they will.
- Lots of sunlight. Sunlight is so important to help regulate the body's internal clock, so make sure you expose you and your child to as much sunlight as possible first thing in the morning.
- Adjust time of activities. Some families find that moving their entire day's activities ahead the one hour also helps. Keep in mind that children thrive when parents provide a structured environment and dealing with the time change is no different.
- Consistent routines. Keeping your everyday routines consistent will help everyone make the adjustment a bit easier. Carry on with regular activities, mealtimes and bedtime routines all according to the new time.
- Be flexible. The first few days of the transition may be a little rough at bedtime. If your child normally goes to bed at 7:30pm, after the time change, according to their body, they are going to sleep at 6:30pm. This may result in bedtime battles due to your child not being tired at bedtime. Help your child settle for the night by dimming the lights and keeping noise low.
Children do not really understand what is going on so the time change can make everyone's day feel a little "off". Not to worry! Everyone will adjust in a few days.
To contact Kim with any questions or to book a free initial consultation, visit www.babesandbeyond.com.