5 ways to help kids adjust to Daylight Saving Time

The change in daylight can be a challenge for children’s routines, but sleep expert Nicole Johnson has ideas to keep them sleeping well.
The change in daylight can be a challenge for children’s routines, but sleep expert Nicole Johnson has ideas to keep them sleeping well. Getty Images/iStockphoto

With the beginning of Daylight Saving Time right this weekend (see details & more information here), many parents are beginning to wonder how “springing forward” will affect their children’s sleep schedules. Sleep expert Nicole Johnson has spent years helping families prepare for the time change every spring, and has a long list of tips and recommendations for how to survive the time change.

The main thing to remember, according to Johnson, is that your child’s internal clock won’t be changing with your household clocks! Our circadian rhythms are often predictable and reliable and they don’t automatically follow daylight saving time changes. That’s why, if your child customarily goes to bed at 7 p.m., he may seem not quite ready for bed at 7 p.m. after the time change. For that child, 7 p.m. feels like 6 p.m., and therefore too early for bed!

As a result, the beginning of daylight saving can cause even the best and most dependable sleepers to start resisting bedtime, begin waking at night, and can lead to crankiness and overtiredness. While many parents may welcome having their children’s schedule shifted later by an hour, most parents are also wondering how to keep their children from reverting backwards and avoiding their little one’s entire sleep pattern from being interrupted.

If you’re worried about how the time change will affect your little one and what you can do about it, here are some quick tips to help you navigate the change:

1 - Change your daytime routines to be an hour later, not just sleep

2 - Ensure your baby naps at least one hour for each nap (except for the third nap of the day for babies taking three naps)

3 - Make sure you set bedtime to be the new time HOWEVER if your bedtime was too late before, make it earlier than the new clock time (which is still later than the old).If you like your baby’s current schedule or need it to remain the same due to your work schedule, you can prepare for the time change by moving everything back a few days ahead of time: for example, if your baby normally goes to bed at 7 p.m., put him to put 15 minutes earlier each night for several nights, until he’s going to bed closer to 6 p.m.

4 - If you don’t already have them, try room-darkening blinds/curtains

5 - Ensure your baby is eating enough during the day

Need more sleep help? If it’s not just the time change that has your baby’s or toddler’s sleep schedule turned upside down, there’s a resource you can access quickly online that offers you a customized, comprehensive sleep plan based on your little one’s patterns and your family’s preferences. Visit The Baby Sleep Site’s customized Express Sleep Plan, complete a brief questionnaire and you’ll get immediate access to a plan that will you give you expert tips to put your family on the path to better sleep.