Helping your baby or toddler get regular, restful sleep can be difficult on its own, but Sunday, March 8, 2020, will pose the biannual challenge of switching our clocks and our little ones’ sleep schedules. Adjusting your baby or toddler to the daylight savings time change may take more than one night, but if you keep two key concepts in mind, you can adjust their sleep schedule gradually, which will lead to less fuss at nap time and bedtime.
Routine is key at bedtime
Your baby or toddler’s bedtime is based on routine more than it is on the clock. Certain routines like bath time, story time, quiet time and putting on pajamas are all acts your little ones associate with going to bed. A toddler routine chart is a fun way to get your little ones actively involved in their evening schedule. It can also be a helpful tool to frame their day. Parents can guide their little ones through the time change by slightly altering the time of their bedtime routine. Don’t feel controlled by the numbers on the clock: If 6:30pm is your child’s bedtime this Saturday, then 6:30pm on Sunday (what used to be 7:30pm) is their bedtime, too. But you don’t need to get there immediately. Focus on your baby or toddler’s bedtime routine in the weeks leading up to the time change to make the association even stronger.
Plan ahead for daylight savings
In addition to focusing on your bedtime routine, you can plan ahead the week before the time change to gradually ease your baby or toddler into their new bedtime. Try putting your child to sleep 5 to 10 minutes later each night leading up to November 3, and encourage them to wake up later, too. This bit-by-bit approach can make it easier when the official time switch comes around.
During the day on Saturday before the time change, prepare your child for a good night’s rest throughout the day. In preparation for their later bedtime, try not to let your child oversleep during their nap. As always, ease into the new bedtime with a few quiet, calming activities during your usual bedtime routine.
Finally, a small but important way to plan ahead is to make sure you keep your child’s room is dark so the morning light doesn’t wake them preemptively. Remember to draw the shades in your child’s room before they go to sleep!
Daylight savings for older toddlers
If your toddler is a bit older, you can make the time change fun with a sleep-training clock. These clocks are usually shaped like orbs, owls, moons or sleek, small tablets and use a combination of light and sound to help your toddler understand when it’s time to wake up. Most of them also have additional special features, such as naptime settings and games to help your toddler learn to tell the time. Sleep-training clocks can help younger kids understand time and sleep patterns in a way that’s enjoyable for them.
Your baby or toddler’s sleep schedule won’t change immediately when we fall back this November 3, but it shouldn’t take longer than a week or so to get them adjusted. As long as you plan ahead over the course of a few days and are deliberate and thoughtful in your child’s bedtime routine, your little one will be adjusted to the daylight savings time change quickly.