This Sunday morning we “spring forward” to days of more sunlight and, hopefully, more warmth! Time changes can be difficult for children — who depend on routines and consistency to fall asleep effortlessly — and Heather Long is bracing herself:
I’ve slept like a baby for more than two years now—as well as my daughter would let me, that is. The old truism of “sleep when they sleep” is true. Whether it’s short or long, most parents do sleep like their children, often in shorter quantities. With the upcoming arrival of daylight savings time, there’s going to be another kink in the night for a few days, and most parents look for help to make sleep go as smoothly as possible.
When my daughter was a newborn, my husband and I went through all the typical struggles of parents who don’t get enough sleep as we tried to acclimate ourselves and her to a sleep pattern. Routines are important to parents and children alike. So what do we do when daylight savings time disrupts the routine we’ve worked so hard to establish?
Hamilton spoke with pediatric sleep expert Dr. Jodi Mindell and got some handy tips to help parents out for the change to daylight savings time:
- Gradually move their bedtime back 15 minutes each night starting on Thursday before the time change.
- Develop good sleep habits so that adjustment is easier.
- Utilize the same routine for bedtime after the time change as before.
- Remember, it can take children up to a week to adjust after the time change.
- Be prepared to wake them at normal times in the morning—don’t let them “sleep in,” and wake them from their nap time at a normal time as well.
Hamilton suggests some other good ideas to help infants get off to a good start in the sleep department:
- Have a set bedtime. Kids have a very strong internal clock, and if it peaks for them to sleep at 8 PM, and you don’t put them to sleep at that time regularly, you may miss the moment and have a harder time getting them to sleep.
- Have a bedtime routine. You want a bedtime routine that’s consistent and done in the same order each night. Children thrive on routines. According to the National Sleep Foundation, routines before bed help children sleep soundly.
- Incorporate bath time, music, and reading. “When you read to your child before bed, always read the same story last each night so they know when that story is done, it’s time for sleep,” says Dr. Mindell.
- [Y]ou want your children to fall asleep independently. “On average a toddler wakes two to six times a night,” says Dr. Mindell. “If you rock them to sleep each night, you will find that you may end up having to rock them to sleep each time they wake up. How you put your children to bed each night establishes the routine.”
As we advance our clocks one hour on Saturday night, also remember to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at home!
(Back pat: Camille Naylor)