Surviving Daylight Savings with Your Young Child

by Liberty Mahon, MS of Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support

As“fall back” approaches, we, as adults, may be excited about the idea of an extra hour of sleep, but unfortunately as parents, we realize that this has the potential to wreak havoc on our child’s sleep! Here are a few tips to help you to adjust your little one’s internal sleep clock:

  1. Stick to your usual schedule. You will adjust everything in your daily life such as your work schedule, meal times, play times, and quiet times to the time change. Your child’s sleep schedule is no different. If nap time was at 9am before DLS then it is still 9am after DLS. The same goes for bedtime.
  2. Enjoy the great outdoors. Exposure to natural light will help reset the body’s biological rhythms to the time change. While the weather is still warm, enjoy the playground or go for a walk in the stroller.
  3. Have a sleep routine.  Sleep routines before saying “good night” such a calm bath, pajamas and a few stories or some milk, a gentle massage and a soft lullaby are cues to children that it is time to get ready to sleep. These cues help children to prepare themselves to sleep.
  4. Delay your response to the early wake-up call.  It is likely that in the first couple of days your child may wake at his usual wake-up time (if it was 6am, now it is 5am). To help him adjust, give him a little time before going in to his room to get him up for the day. Try to keep him in his bed to as close to the new wake-up time as possible.  If you do get him up, keep light dim and activities calm until you get to the new desired wake-up time.
  5. Keep your child well rested. Make an effort to keep to your schedule and give your child the time and place to sleep.  If her sleep is thrown off schedule, or naps are shortened, put her to bed earlier to avoid an overtired state. Bedtimes are usually between 6-8pm, but can be as early as 5pm if extra sleep is needed.Just as you it may take you, as an adult, a few days to adjust to the time changes, you can expect that it will take a few days for your child’s sleep to regulate as his internal clock resets. A consistent and patient approach is your key to success.Liberty Mahon, MS is a certified Early Childhood Special Education teacher and a certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant trained through the Family Sleep Institute. She is a co-creator of the Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support Program. CTS Sleep Support offers a variety of consultation packages including in-person, phone, Skype/Face Time and e-mail consultations. Her services include a personalized plan and her support as she helps you to help your child learn to sleep better. Please go to www.childrenssleepsupport.com for more information or email her at liberty@childrenssleep.com.  You can also follow Children’s Therapy Sleep Support Program on Facebook.

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