Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner and we’re springing forward! No better time than now for a refresher on how to prepare.
When it comes to successfully navigating a time change with your infant or toddler, your approach will first depend on how adaptable they are. Children who adapt easily will likely require less “prep time” for the change than children who are more structured overall.
In many cases, it’s less about how adaptable the child is and more about how much flexibility we can afford with daycare and work schedules to consider. In this case, once the clocks move forward you will follow your child’s “old” routine. If your child was waking at 6am before the time change, then you will wake them at 6am after the time change. If your child was going to bed at 6pm before the time change, then bedtime will be 6pm after the time change. Meals and naps will follow.
The downside to this approach is that you may need to override some of your child’s natural cues to ensure everyone stays on schedule. Oftentimes, parents will find that their kids are initially hyped up at bedtime and tired in the mornings. The same goes for naps and mealtimes – kids may seem a bit “off” for a few days. Most kids will adapt within a week, but you may want to carve out extra time on the first weekend following the time change to help them catch up on lost sleep.
Split the Difference
For the slightly more adaptable child, some parents may choose to “split the difference.” This means that if your child was going to bed at 6pm before the time change, you would move bedtime to 6:30pm after the time change. Ideally, you will allow them to sleep until at least 6:30am the following morning. Meals and naps would also shift 30 minutes later.
Keep it Simple – Go with the Flow
Many families will find themselves cherishing “springing forward.” If you’ve been itching for that 6:00am wake-up to slide later, this may be your golden ticket. For the very adaptable child, a 6:00am wake-up will now look like 7:00am. Likewise, those early 6:00pm bedtimes may now shift to 7:00pm.
Do remember though that your child is losing an hour of sleep, so the best way to keep that 7:00am wake time is to put them down for bed a bit earlier. For example, if the clocks read 7:00am when they wake on Sunday, consider putting them to bed at 6:30pm/6:45pm on Sunday evening – especially if they are showing you cues that they are tired. “Stretching” kids to stay up longer only increases the stress hormone in their bodies, making healthy sleep less likely.