It's that time of year again, the leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter and it's dark by dinnertime. I certainly love all things Fall, but not exactly the darkness or the "Falling Back" that leaves me feeling like I need an 8 PM bedtime for at least a week. No use in fighting it though, mark your calendar and get ready for the yearly "wind your clocks back an hour". Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 2 am to be exact. The act of changing time on the clock is the easy part, but what about our body clocks? Nudging our body clock, or more importantly our child's body clock, now that is the tricky part. Well the good news is I've compiled a few DOs and DON'Ts to help you navigate a gentle approach to synchronizing your baby's body clock to the one on the wall.
1. Time Change-
DON'T change the clocks on Saturday night before you go to bed... unless of course you have an important job interview on Sunday morning that you just can't miss.
DO have a good breakfast and your morning coffee after waking up on Sunday morning, and then go about changing all the clocks in your house (oh, and remember the clock in your car too). This way is less psychologically upsetting than to wake and see everyone in the house up an hour earlier than usual.
2. Adjusted Sleep Times-
DON'T expect that your child is going to nap at their usual time after the time change. The body clock and the time change don't match up immediately.
DO split the difference and adjust your child's nap time (and bedtime) by approximately 30 minutes. For example, if your baby routinely takes his morning nap at 9:30 AM, bump it up to 9:00 AM.
3. Gradually Move Bedtime-
DON'T get stuck in the adjusted sleep time. For instance, we bump up bedtime from 7:0O PM to 6:30 PM but don't think we are going to stay here long term.
DO move back to your baby's set bedtime of 7:00 PM on Night 4 (and there on out) after the time change.
4. Toddlers and Time-
DON'T let toddlers get confused by the minutes on their clock. The minutes are too much detail for a toddler to comprehend, they are more able to understand the difference between 6 AM and 7 AM versus 6 AM and 6:30 AM.
DO put a piece of tape over the minutes on your toddler's digital clock so they can see 6 o'clock or 7 o'clock, but nothing more. Tell them they are allowed to get out of bed in the morning when the clock says 7 o'clock, this will help encourage them to sleep longer.
5. Guide the Later Wake Up-
DON't rush in as soon as you hear your baby wake in the morning, because you don't want to send the message that getting up at 5:00 AM is now ok!
DO adjust wake up time by 10 minutes each day. If your baby normally woke at 6:00 AM, and now is up at 5:00 AM, you will wait until 5:10 AM after the first day, 5:20 AM after the second day, 5:30 AM after the third day and so on until by the end of the week your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
DON'T get too worried about over-tiredness during the week following the time change. A little is to be expected, since we are working to shift our child's body clock. When we put baby to sleep at adjusted sleep times, it is going to be a stretch for them. In other words, when it is 6:30 PM on the clock, it is going to FEEL like 7:30 PM to your baby (who is used to going to sleep at 7:00 PM).
DO stay consistent with the times and use 15 minute time increment adjustment throughout the week if your child is really struggling to stay awake at bedtime or naptime.
DON'T expect change overnight, it takes at least 1 week to make changes to both our body clocks and our children's body clocks.
DO be patient with these tips and your child will be back on track in a week, possibly two!
Daylight Savings has an effect on all of us, children especially. Children and babies tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. That is the reason we usually notice negative effects most in young children after the time change. My hope is that these strategies will help you and your family have a smoother transition with Daylight Saving Time this year.