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October 30, 2018

How To Get Your Child Used to the Fall Time Change

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The end of daylight saving time is around the corner. As parents of young children, gaining an extra hour in the day takes on a new meaning. The pre-child days of sleeping an extra hour may be replaced by managing a tired child in a seemingly long day. You may wonder if and how this time change will impact your child’s and consequently, your sleep. Firstly, breathe easy because for most children, the adjustment period typically lasts no longer than two to three days. 

Here are some simple tips to ease you through this time and to help your child adjust to the time change.

FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS:

For young children who are still napping, stretch your child as far as you can toward his normal first nap time (according to the new clock). So, even if your child wakes earlier than usual and he wants to nap earlier, do what you can to keep him awake and occupied! For example at daycare we will adhere to our usual naptime to keep children on schedule. Also keep the same time for bedtime. By getting him to nap at his regular time(s) (according to the new clock) you will help him achieve his regular bedtime without becoming too overtired. If regular bedtime is 7:30pm, aim for 7:30pm the first night of the time change.

FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND SCHOOL CHILDREN:

If your child is no longer napping, she may have a longer day ahead of her given that her day may have started an hour earlier the day of the time change. Be sure to spend her day, doing her regular activities and eating her meals, at the usual times (according to the new clock). 

Prepare your child by adjusting bedtime. The night before the time change put your child to sleep at night a little later (based on this example, bedtime would be 7:45pm). On the night of the time change and for the next couple of nights adjust bedtime earlier working towards regular bedtime (e.g. if typical bedtime is 7:30pm, may start with 7:00pm and regularly increase to 7:30pm over next few nights (increments of 15 minutes are recommended). Initially, they may be overtired and irritable in the late afternoon, but after a couple of days they will adjust.

As it begins to get light outside about 1 hour earlier after the time change, to help you and your child sleep later following the time change, ensure that your child’s room is very dark (use room darkening shades if needed). Otherwise you may find them continuing to wake early in response to early morning light. With patience and consistency this fall time change will soon be a distant memory. Pleasant Dreams! 

Adapted from article by Dr. Pamela Mitelman & Dr. Nicky Cohen, parentscanada.com