Daylight Saving Time is right around the corner, March 14, 2021.
Did you know that Daylight Saving Time originally intended to move us toward “summer time” and allow us to use the sunlight hours better?
While shifting the clock gives us extra light in our day, it does tend to wreak havoc on the body, especially for families that have children under the age of 2.
Spring forward happens when you are in the middle of one of these sleep scenarios:
- Sleep is in place you just taught your little one the skill of how to sleep on their own. Now it’s going to shift things around!?!?! !
- Sleep, what’s that? We are up throughout the night many times, and now you are going to add daylight saving time to it so the clocks spring forward. For the love, when can a parent rest?
Whatever the sleep scenario in your home is, it tends to shift things up for children and adults alike for a week or so.
Daylight Saving Time starts on Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 2:00 am and we will turn our clocks one hour ahead. This can also be a good time to remember to change out the batteries in your fire alarms around the house as well.
Sleep Tips for Daylight Saving Time:
- Be sure your child gets in some good naps so that they don’t become overtired when the time changes.
- Dim the lights for the last hour of the day. Turn the blinds to make it just a bit darker too.
- Use darkening shades to help keep it nice and dark in the morning.
- Get outside in the fresh air and sunshine first thing in the morning for at least 30 minutes. This can help the body adjust to the time change and it helps improve sleep all around.
- Bedtime will feel earlier since it is an hour earlier.
- Allow more outside time than usual on the day of the time change to help wear your child out so they are more likely to be tired for naps and bedtime. Think about tiring them out with physical activity and being outdoors. With infants do some extra floor time. Toddlers can enjoy a long walk pushing or pulling their favorite toys. Preschoolers can enjoy taking their stuffed animals for a wagon ride. Going to the park to get physical activity to so that your child can climb, slide, push and pull can be an option. Of course, these are great activities for children every day but just think of doing a little more the day of the time change to help them use their energy.
Who is affected by Daylight Saving time:
- 6 months and beyond: Your child is going to notice a difference like you and I would. Making it dim around the house for a few days during the last hour of the day and then doing a gradual transition can help. Usually, I find that it is more temperament-based on how our little one deals with change. If you find your child more sensitive, then opt for a slower transition, but most infants and toddlers will do fine with a gradual change. Again, it can really help with a child that is rising early.
- Babies that are 3-6 months of age: Your baby is growing and your little ones circadian rhythm is maturing. You may find that you might have a predictable routine established with your baby. You may have even discovered your baby’s unique schedule. Making a slower transition can be helpful to allow your baby sometime to adjust. You may decide to start a week earlier and allow your child a couple of days to help make the transition. Making shifts in 10-20 minute increments can be helpful. Review the chart to see what a 15-minute incremental change could look like in your home.
- Newborn- 3 months of age: Good news– You don’t have to worry so much about the time change just yet because your baby’s circadian rhythms have not matured yet. Sleep during the first four months of life is a little different and you can learn more here in my newborn sleep class- Rest In the Nest- Part 1. You may decide that now could be a good time to beginning working towards a consistent bedtime and wake time with your little one.
The first approach to daylight saving time transition:
Do nothing, keep bedtime the same.
Put your child to sleep at the regular bedtime. 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 am in the morning, now it will be 7 am on the new time. This can really work in your favor especially if you have an early riser. Then on Sunday, continue your regular routine at the new time.
At bedtime put your child down at their normal bedtime so if your child normally use to have a 7 pm bedtime they might not be as tired because it’s actually 6 pm on the old time. Again, our children don’t understand time and clocks and how all of this works. Being intentional about being physically active so that your child can get more tired will help make this transition easier. Be patient and flexible. You might even consider using the shuffle or other gentle sleep methods to help your baby or toddler fall asleep.
You may also decide that after Daylight Saving Time you may need a transition plan to ease the into the NEW time. Here’s what that might look like: If bedtime is normally 7 pm, shift it to 7:30 pm for 1 to 2 nights. By the night 3 or 4, you’ll be back to 7 pm.
Usually, it takes a little less than a week to transition with this approach.
The second approach to daylight saving time transition:
Make a slower or gradual transition.
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. This will be helpful that you’re not throwing your child off by the entire hour. You’ll be gradually making the shift. Be sure to adjust meal times too.
The goal of course with either approach is to get your child back on track to their regular bedtime! And whatever approach you use, really allow for about 5-7 days for your child to make the transition. Some children may need two weeks to get back on track.
You are your child’s best expert. So only you know the best way to make springing forward an easy transition for your family.
One last thought:
Change your mind about Daylight Saving Time!
What we think and what we say can affect our parenting more than we know. One thing I hear more than anything during this season is the blame because of the “dreaded time change.” And while it is hard on the body there is evidence of that, it can be helpful to adjust our perspective and more importantly the words we speak.
Here are some words and thoughts on how you could reframe it and shift your mindset around daylight saving time:
- The good news is that I’ll be able to enjoy some extra sunshine.
- Thank goodness for blackout shades to help my little one sleep while there is light outside.
- In a week or two, this too shall pass.
- My child no longer wakes up before 6 am.
Hopefully, this gets you started thinking and saying things that are more encouraging and affirming. Your perspective can change everything.
These tips work well when you have a consistent bedtime and wake time for your child. If you don’t have that in place, this can be a good time to begin implementing these healthy sleep habits. If you are not sure how to let’s set up a time to talk here on my calendar for us to talk to help your get sleep in your home gently!
Sweet dreams springing forward!