You would think that the opportunity to have your child suddenly sleep in an extra hour would bring joy to everyone’s heart but unfortunately this simple concept (move the clock forward one hour = waking up one hour later) does not always work out so smoothly for our kids. The good news is most children adjust to the change in clock time fairly quickly and the better news is that there are a few things you can do to help this transition because even champion sleepers may need some help.
All sleepers (from the best to the “worst) will benefit from:
- Maintain a consistent, predictable and soothing bedtime routine. Make this time about connecting with your child and allowing them to prepare to be separated from you. Children create a strong connection between their bedtime routine and sleep so keep it consistent, keep it calm and keep it predictable.
- Keep their bedroom dark. It is tough to go to sleep (and back to sleep in the early morning hours) if the room is too light. I recommend blackout curtains or shades for every bedroom in the house.
- Expose them to sunlight. Our body’s internal clocks are influenced by sunlight and by exposing our children to natural sunlight in the morning we can help to re-sync our body clocks.
- Remember to set your clocks ahead 1 hour before going to bed on Saturday night so that when you wake up on Sunday you will be on the new clock time.
As for how to implement the change in clock time there are two ways you can go about it. You “Do Nothing” or you can go “Slow and Steady”.
The “do nothing”, cold turkey, approach is the easiest to do. For this you just change your clock before going to bed and when you wake up on Sunday morning you follow your child’s regular schedule according to new clock time. You will keep the daily activities and mealtimes the same based on the new clock time. You will also keep naps the same, so if your child is on a nap schedule then use the new clock time to determine when naps should start. Even if they do not look tired go ahead and put them down anyways because if you stay consistent than in a few days they should make the shift. Within a week you should notice that your child’s internal clock has started to adjust.
This is a great way to make the change for children who have easy temperaments, adjust to change fairly easily, and are already sleeping well. But if this feels too drastic or if you have a child who is sensitive to change then you may want to help them by going slow and steady.
Slow and Steady:
To slowly and steadily help your child prepare for the change in clock time you would gradually adjust their schedule by 15 minute increments over a 4 day period. You can do this prior to Sunday by moving bedtime early in 15 minute increments over 4 days or you can do it after you change the clocks by waking them up 15 minutes early over 4 days. You can also do either of these a little less gradually by moving them in 30-minute increments over 2 days. Just be sure to remember to move both nap and meal times so that everything is on the “new” (albeit moving) schedule.
And the best news is that if you had a child who was an early bird (i.e. waking at 6am) you may just find yourself with a little one who suddenly sleeps in!
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