The start of Daylight Saving Time is a double edged sword. On Sunday, March 8th at 2am we spring forward an hour. It provides us with more light in the evening hours and offsets problems with early rising. Having said this, “loosing” an hour of sleep on Saturday night contributes to a higher rate of car and work related accidents on the Monday after AND can cause problems for children who already have difficulty with sleep. To help with the time change, below are three options.
If your child is a good sleeper, then simply move meals, naps and bedtime to the new time. If your child still naps, make sure your child is well napped to account for a later bedtime. Expose your child to natural sunlight in the morning for the first few days (this helps adults as well) and be sure to get plenty of activity outside throughout the day.
Move your child’s bedtime, naps and meals by 15 minutes per day for four days. This helps to acclimate your child to the new time in a gentle way. Be sure to expose your child to lots of natural sunlight in the morning for the first few days to reset the internal body clock and make naps an absolute priority.
Do nothing. Seriously. If your child can barely make it until bedtime without melting down and wakes up too early (anytime prior to 6am) don’t shift them on to the new time. Young children don’t know how to tell time; I have yet to find one that can so take advantage. So if your child’s bedtime was at 6:30, move it to 7:30 according to the new clock. Your child’s body still thinks it’s 6:30pm but you will enjoy your child for a little longer in the evening and she will sleep in an hour later, at least, according to the clock.
With any of these options, consistency is the key to success. Inconsistent behavior causes more problems (and more tears), so be sure to choose an option and stick to it.