Soon we will adjust our clocks back one hour for Daylight Savings Time. That means sunlight during our afternoons get shorter and gives us a bit more daylight in the early morning. It also means that our children’s sleep schedules need to alter, as well. Parents often ask me how to do this, especially if their child has been getting up before 6:00 am.
You can help your child adjust to the change by several methods which can take anywhere from a few days to about a week.
Option 1: Go cold turkey. When the change comes up just put your child to bed at the new time and don’t let them start the day until at least 6:00 am the next day. If your child is up very early, say 4:30 (because they usually wake at 5:30) treat it like 2 am- it’s not morning! If you have a toddler you can use a developmentally appropriate clock to let them know it’s not morning time.
Option 2: Gradually adjust bedtime a few days ahead of schedule. Depending on how sensitive your child is to sleep changes take 2 days and move bedtime later by 30 minutes OR 4 days before and move bedtime 15 minutes later. Then, when the change happens, bedtime is already at the new adjusted time on the clock.
Make sure your child is well napped during the change or the day leading up to the change so that they are starting with a full “tank” of sleep. This is very important and can help especially if early rising has been a problem. (for more on early rising read my blog ). If your child is up too early, be consistent by waiting until 6:00 am to let them start the day. Then, do a “dramatic wake up” and pronounce the morning by turning on the lights and letting in natural light, too.