Sleep consultant Alanna McGinn reveals the easy ways you can adjust your baby’s sleep schedule so spring forward is less disruptive for your family.
On March 8th at 3 a.m., we move our clocks forward one hour. Mornings begin to get brighter and evenings lighter (yay!), and parents of early risers may soon be able to get an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Cue the harps and rejoice.
So what do we need to do to prepare our child’s sleep schedule for daylight saving time? Luckily it isn’t as disruptive as when we turn the clocks back in the fall, so most kids adjust easily. Begin by waking little ones at the usual time on Sunday morning and following your regular daily routine. Continue with the normal nap and bedtimes, and kids should be on track within a week or so.
If you’re concerned about your child transitioning to the new time because he’s a sensitive sleeper, you can introduce the change gradually. If his typical wake time is 6:30 a.m. move it to 6:00 a.m. a few days before the actual change. This way once the clocks spring forward he’ll already be prepped for the new time.
You can go as far as moving your baby’s entire schedule an hour ahead, including meal times and nap times, but for most kids this isn’t necessary. The key change, whenever you’re going through any kind of sleep transition, is bedtime. It may have to be slightly earlier than usual to make up for any lost sleep while your child adjusts.
The sun will be shining earlier in the morning as the month goes on and soon bedtime will be brighter as well. It’s important to make sure your child’s bedroom is set up to promote sleep, even in the daylight. Here are some sleep tools you can try:
1. Black-out blinds
Keep those early sunrises banished from his room and make bedtime nice and dark, even if it’s still light out.
2. Toddler alarm clocks
You can set it to your desired sleep and wake times, making it easier for him to understand and follow the schedule. Use it during naps too!
3. Sound machines
Mask the bird chatter first thing in the morning and outside sounds at night.
If you practice proper sleep hygiene consistently within your family, transitions like time changes shouldn’t take long to master. But, if sleep issues persist after a few weeks you may want to take a look at your child’s overall sleep routine and habits, to see if any changes need to be made.
And don’t forget to check your smoke detectors! Spring forward is a great time to check/replace the batteries.