Fall Back ~ Keeping Your Baby’s Sleep on Track
Daylight Saving Time is about to end and we will be moving back to Standard Time on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013. Many parents have already contacted me wondering how they can help their little ones manage the transition while still maintaining the great sleep schedule they have created! The good news is that you really don’t need to do anything… yet!
Below are my tips for making it through this transition… remember though, it is an adjustment so be patient!
1. On Saturday night, leave the clocks alone and put your children to bed at the usual time. This will help you psychologically in the morning when your child wakes at their usual time but the clock says it is an hour earlier! Get up at your usual time and start the day… adjust your clocks only once you have had a good start to your day.
NOTE: If you happen to have an early morning commitment, of course you won’t want to be late, so if you have to, set your own clock to the new time so that you aren’t late!
2. For sleep times: “Split the Difference” for the first three days after the time change. For example:
~NAPS: If your baby usually naps at 9:30 a.m., put your baby down at 9:00 a.m. instead of at the new time of 8:30 a.m.. It will be a bit of a push for your baby but not too much to damage the schedule you have already worked so hard to establish. Do this all subsequent naps that day AND continue for three days total.
~BEDTIME: If your child usually goes to bed at 7:00 p.m., make sure lights are out at the new time of 6:30 p.m.. Again, this will be a push for your child since it will FEEL like 7:30 p.m. But this will help get the morning wake time back on track sooner. Do this starting on Sunday and for the following two nights.
~Toddlers/School-aged children: If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock to know when the family ‘morning time’ has arrived, set the clock one half hour ahead of the new time so that it reads 7:00 a.m. at the new time of 6:30 a.m. . Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 according to the clock but it will be 6:30 a.m., new time). This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 a.m. time after about one or two weeks.
Note: For toddlers, the minute numbers on a digital clock can be very confusing. If you are using one, cover the minutes of the clock with tape to avoid any confusion. If you are interested in introducing a clock to your toddler’s sleep routine to help the know when the morning has arrived, there are very kid-friendly clock on the market that can help make this fun. Two of my favourites are:
The Gro Clock and The Kids Sleep Clock
~Younger Babies: If you have a younger baby, she won’t be able to rely on a clock. If your baby is used to waking up at 6:30 a.m. but now it is 5:30 a.m., wait for 10 minutes before you respond to her so that you don’t send the message that it is now okay to wake earlier. While you will still be waking earlier than usual, it will only be temporary as your baby adjusts. The next day, wait for 20 minutes and then wait 30 minutes the third day etc. adding 10 minutes to your wait time each day so that by the end of the week your baby is waking at her usual time again. You will notice that your baby starts to wake later as the week goes on. Be patient.
3. On the fourth day, adjust all sleep times so that they get on track with the new time. This will mean that your baby’s sleep times are all happening at the correct time.
It takes our bodies about one to two weeks to fully adjust to the new time. Expect things to be a bit off for a short period of time but be patient and know that you and your child will eventually adjust as long as you are consistent in your expectations and responses.
Sweet Dreams, everyone!
Many of us dread the loss of one hour of sleep as the upcoming ‘Fall Back’ time change approaches and it seems especially daunting to those with young children who already wake early in the morning. The fact is that our body’s need a couple of weeks to adjust (no matter our age) BUT there are some things you can do to help the adjustment go as smoothly as possible for your family.