The spring time change is coming but there’s no need to panic! “Springing forward” affects kids’ sleep far less than “falling back”. In fact, it may work to your advantage if you have an early bird on your hands.
When the clock “springs forward” by an hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, you may “lose” an hour overnight. Your child, however, does not know this. If your child usually wakes at 5 a.m., she will wake at 6 a.m. (according to the clock) on Sunday, March 8! Though it may feel like 5 a.m. to you, the clock will read 6 a.m.
Because exposure to light stops the production of melatonin, it’s important to make sure your child’s room is as dark as possible during sleep times. It won’t be bright in the morning on the first day of the time change. It will begin to get brighter as the month goes on and sunrise shifts earlier and earlier.
The best way to prepare for those bright early mornings is to invest in some good blackout shades to help keep your child’s room dark for sleep. Similarly, during daylight hours, get outside or open the shades and let the natural light in. This will help your child’s body regulate to the “new” time more quickly.
If you’re still panicking about daylight savings with kids, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered.
FOR EASY GOING/FLEXIBLE KIDDOS (FIXED DAILY SCHEDULE)
Do nothing. Let your child sleep until she wakes up on Sunday (an hour later!) and then follow the clock. Offer naps and meals at normal times according to the clock.
FOR LESS FLEXIBLE KIDDOS (FIXED DAILY SCHEDULE)
Start adjusting naptime(s) and bedtime a few days prior to the time change. If your child normally wakes up at 7 a.m. and you need to keep this wake time, you may prepare the following way:
- March 1-2: wake your child at 6:45 a.m.
- March 3-5: wake your child at 6:30 a.m.
- March 6-7: wake your child at 6:15 a.m.
- March 8: wake your child at 7 a.m. (new time)
Naps should follow a similar schedule by the clock, as should bedtime. This will help your child slowly adjust to the new time while also keeping her well-rested.
IS YOUR SCHEDULE FLEXIBLE AND YOU WANT YOUR CHILD WAKING LATER?
On Sunday, March 8, shift your child’s schedule forward by one hour. For instance, if your child normally wakes at 5:30 a.m. and naps at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., on Sunday her wake up will be at 6:30 a.m., with naps at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. If her bedtime is generally around 6:30 p.m., it will now be at 7:30 p.m. Your child should naturally adjust to this new schedule because it’s actually the same as her old schedule. Some children, however, will naturally shift back to their “old” schedule. Because who doesn’t want to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to see mommy and daddy? But, really, some people are just early birds!
Daylight savings with kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Children with healthy sleep hygiene should adjust to this time change very easily. In fact, many won’t miss a beat. Others may take a few days to adjust, but regulating light exposure will help this, so get outside and enjoy some fresh air! Happy spring!