By Aubrey Everett
Daylight saving time begins this Sunday at 2 a.m., in most states. The good news is that we will get additional sunlight in the evenings, but the time change may also impact kids’ sleep routines.
In our pre-kid days, my husband and I would grumble about losing an hour of sleep due to the springtime change. But now that we have a toddler, we think less about our own small loss and more about how it will affect his sleep routine.
In our pre-kid days, my husband and I would grumble about losing an hour of sleep due to the springtime change.
With the clock “springing forward” an hour this weekend, everyone’s schedule will be shifted slightly. Our son has a generally predictable sleep routine and we work hard to keep him on track. We know he tends to grow increasingly fussy as his bedtime nears, and we follow his sleep cues to avoid getting into an overtired state. That means we will be making some small adjustments to address the time change.
There are a few ways to approach the clock change. You can do nothing, and that works perfectly well for some families. If your kid goes with the flow and sleeps well no matter the conditions, this may not be a concern.
For babies and toddlers that are on a good sleep schedule and react to small changes in routine, daylight saving can be alarming. Despite the clock only changing by one hour, sometimes that single hour can make a big difference.
If you want to prepare, consider shifting your child’s schedule backward in the days leading up to the change. For example, if your child normally goes to bed at 8 p.m., try adjusting gradually to 7:45, then 7:30, and so on. By the time Sunday rolls around, your child will be ready for their regular bedtime according to the time on the clock. The same goes for naps.
If you want to prepare, consider shifting your child’s schedule backward in the days leading up to the change.
For mornings, you can gently wake them up in the same small increments to prepare their bodily clocks. We turn off our son’s white noise (controlled by Bluetooth on our phones) and turn on some soft music to indicate to him that it is time to wake up. He will get the message without us having to go in his room and “officially” start the day.
As with all sleep-related adjustments, it is important to keep your child’s bedtime routine the same. Prepare their room, turn on the sound machine, read stories – whatever you usually do to wind down to bedtime. Since it may still be light when they are going to bed, which can be confusing and mess with internal sleep indicators, try to make the room as dark as possible.
However you approach daylight saving time, chances are it will take your baby or toddler a few days to adjust. There may be some grumpy mornings or nighttime meltdowns.
However you approach daylight saving time, chances are it will take your baby or toddler a few days to adjust. There may be some grumpy mornings or nighttime meltdowns. After a week or two, everyone should adapt to the new time on the clock, and you will probably forget all about it – this is, until daylight saving time ends in November, and we revisit the adjustments, in the opposite direction.
For now, the time change is one sign of approaching spring days. Our household is more than ready to emerge from the dark, cold winter into warmer, brighter times ahead.
About the author: Aubrey works in higher education and is the mother to an active and inquisitive son. She lives in the Boston area where she enjoys taking family walks along the beach, reading books, and introducing new foods to her son. Writing about motherhood allows her to connect to other parents and give voice to a challenging yet exciting time. About the author: Kara is a teacher, author, and mother of two vivacious daughters. A Maryland native, she and her husband are restoring an 18th-century farm in Susquehanna State Park. Her writing centers on literature, art, nature, disability, and working parenthood.
Photo credit: iStock.com/Golfcuk