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Smoothly Transitioning Through Daylight Saving Time: Practical Strategies for Parents and Kids

As daylight saving time draws near, I often find myself met with a few raised eyebrows when I declare it as one of my favorite holidays. Let's face it – if you have kids (like I do!), you know that it can wreak havoc on their sleep routines. And believe me, I understand the struggle! However, amidst the chaos, I can't help but appreciate the extra sunshine in the afternoon and the longer days that follow!


toddler enjoying extra sunshine after daylight saving time


Fortunately, there are various strategies to help your little one adjust to the new time. The key is to choose an approach that aligns with your parenting style and your child's temperament. Are you the type who plans everything meticulously, or do you prefer to go with the flow? Is your little one adaptable, or do they tend to be more sensitive to changes in their sleep schedule? While I may not be able to make you fall in love with daylight saving time, I'm here to assure you that it doesn't have to disrupt your child's routine for weeks on end! Let's explore some practical tips to navigate this transition smoothly and keep your little one sleeping soundly.


Option 1: Adjust slowly and gradually

Gradually adjust your child's schedule by moving it 15 minutes earlier each day. Begin this process four days prior to the time change, starting on Thursday, and shift the entire schedule earlier, including wake-up time, naps, meals, and bedtime. On Friday, continue shifting everything by an additional 15 minutes (30 minutes from the original schedule). By Sunday, you will have shifted the schedule back by one hour, aligning with the upcoming time change. It's important to also adjust mealtimes, as this helps to reset their circadian rhythm (body clock). This option is best for sensitive sleepers and those that like to plan ahead.


Option 2: Transition over the weekend

Begin by shifting your entire schedule 30 minutes earlier on Sunday, including wake-up time, naps, meals, and bedtime. Although the clock will show that everything is 30 minutes later, your child will perceive it as 30 minutes earlier. For example, if your child typically wakes up at 7:00 am, wake them at 7:30 am according to the Sunday clock. This adjustment will still feel like 6:30 am to their internal clock. Maintain this adjusted schedule throughout Sunday, allowing your child to adapt gradually. Then, on Monday, advance everything by another 30 minutes, and voila! You're back to your normal time.


Option 3: Transition on Sunday

Wait until Sunday and don’t make any changes to their schedule before. Start your day at the new time and start adjusting today. Wake up your little one  to start the transition to the new time. For example, if they normally wake up at 6:30am, wake them up at 6:30am on the Sunday clock. This will feel like 5:30am to their bodies. Continue the day’s meal times, naps and bedtime by following the time on the clock. This option is helpful for little ones taking multiple naps because you are keeping their schedule consistent and on track.


Option 4: Do Nothing!

Just let your little one adjust naturally to the new time. Let them wake on their own. If your child usually wakes up at 7:00am, this will be 8:00am on the Sunday clock. This may mean that naps push a little late on Sunday. For example, if their nap tends to start at 12:30pm, it may be closer to 1:00pm on Sunday. Consider adjusting their nap times by 15 minutes to align with the new schedule. This option is helpful for older kids on one nap or none at all.


Tips and tricks: Sunlight

Get outside! Exposing your little one to morning and afternoon sunlight will help regulate their circadian rhythm (body clock) to the new time.


baby exposed to sunshine to adjust to daylight saving day


In addition, be mindful  that the extended daylight hours in the early morning and evening also means that light may get into your little one’s room. Take the necessary steps to ensure their sleeping environment is adequately dark—emphasis on dark! You shouldn't be able to see your hand when held up in front of your face. Pay extra attention to the edges of curtains or shades. Even tiny slivers of light coming into the bedroom can signal to your little one’s brain that it’s time to wake up.


Tips and tricks: Routines

As they navigate through daylight saving time, it's common for our little one’s internal clocks to feel a bit out of sync for a few days. However, beyond the time change itself, there are several factors at play in regulating their sleep patterns. Establishing consistent naptime and bedtime routines plays a crucial role in preparing your little one's body for rest. These routines create a sense of predictability and control for your child, signaling to their body that sleep is approaching. To help this transition, consider reducing the overall activity level in the house, dimming the lights, and creating a calm and relaxing environment. Consistency is key; sticking to these routines regardless of the time on the clock will help your little one prepare for naptime and bedtime.


Tips and tricks: Patience

It may take several days for your little one to adjust to Daylight Saving Time.Have patience with your child as they transition their bodies. Keep consistent with your healthy sleep habits and try not to start any new habits. If things fall apart or were never quite there, reach out for some support.

Book a discovery call and tell me what’s going on!



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