Tips to Help Your Little Ones Get Through Daylight Savings Changes
One hour change in time might not seem like much. However, for a young child it’s actually quite a big deal and can throw a routine into turmoil. And further, how do you go about telling your child that it’s bedtime when it’s still light outside?
Sleeping when the sun out actually goes against our biological makeup as a human being. Our body clock works in with light and dark so you can begin to see why a child might find it confusing to be told to sleep when the sun is still shining outside. As parents, there are a number of things we can do to help our little ones get through the beginning of daylight savings and stay in a consistent bedtime routine:
We can mentally prepare ourselves that there is a challenging period of time with our kids’ sleeping coming up then I think we can cope with it better. For a lot of kids daylight savings start or end will often affect their sleep routine and we will need to adjust our normal day to-day family lifestyle/night-time routine to suit our kids at this point
- It doesn’t last forever! Unless there is some sort of underlying medical issues such as reflux or iron deficiency, for example, most kids will jump back into a good bedtime pattern within 1-3weeks…I promise there’s light at the end of the tunnel if we do the right things!
- Providing extra comfort is really important! Little children need a lot of comfort at the best of times, but being overtired and cranky (as they do not understand their new routine can be really hard on them!) There’s a good chance that you will need to provide extra comfort and settling techniques for between 1-3 weeks at daylight savings beginning or end. For babies, settling techniques include:
– Presence in their room
Each family needs to work out what works best for them.
- For toddlers and older children you may want to try:
– An extra book
– Presence in their room
– Rewards such as stickers for performing the desired behaviours
Again, work out what works best for your family.
Preparing our kids:
Start now! In the early hours of Sunday morning, we’ll be putting our clocks one hour ahead. Move their bedtime earlier by 10 minutes each night from now, in the lead-up to daylight savings ending. Start the whole bedtime routine 10 minutes earlier and have them ready to go to sleep and close their eyes 10 minutes earlier each night. On the first night make sure they are ready for bed at 6:30pm, the second at 6:40 pm etc until you reach your desired bedtime. You might need to do this gradually over a period of 2-3 weeks as one hour is a big thing for young children. Or, it might happen really quickly! If you weren’t as prepared as a lot of us and didn’t prepare in the lead up to daylight savings end, don’t worry….its not too late! Use this same technique over the period of 1-3 weeks and I’m sure you’ll see a result!
Night routines are crucial. With the start of daylight savings or the end of a daylight savings period, there is always a change in light in the child’s bedroom. Try and stay in control of the light and what the child is used to so it doesn’t startle them come bedtime. It is widely known that light will affect melatonin levels (and melatonin is what helps us all sleep…so let’s keep it dark if possible!)
For toddlers, talk to them about possible changes that might be happening and prepare them for these changes. Toddlers understand a lot and they often do not respond well when confronted with something completely unexpected.
For younger babies who we cannot reason with try and use the above technique of changing routines in 10-minute increments. Bring a bedtime feed, or a bedtime song (whatever method you choose to help your baby settle) forward by10 minutes each night over a period of 1-3 weeks.
Written by Emily Duffell, co-founder of Sleepy Starz Pty Ltd