Spring Forward with Ease: Tips for Navigating the Time Change with Kids

Hey there, tired parents! It’s that time of year again – the dreaded spring-forward time change is upon us. Clocks will ‘spring forward on Sunday, March 10th, 2024. But fear not! While adjusting the clocks might feel like a daunting task, especially when it comes to your little ones’ sleep schedules, I’ve got your back with some tried-and-tested tips to make this transition as smooth as possible. So grab a cup of coffee (or tea, if that’s more your style), and let’s dive in!

1. Wait to Change the Clocks

The first rule of thumb when it comes to springing forward is to wait until the actual day of the time change to adjust your clocks. That means sticking to your regular bedtime routine on Saturday night and letting your child wake up naturally on Sunday morning. Don’t worry if they sleep in – it’s all part of the process!

2. Adjust Naps

If you have an older baby or toddler who follows a set nap schedule, you’ll want to shift those naptimes by about 30 minutes later. For example, if your little one usually naps at 10:00 am, move it to 10:30 am (which will feel like the old 9:30). Stick to this adjusted schedule for 3-4 days before reverting back to their ‘normal’ naptime. If your baby’s naps are based on wake windows rather than a fixed schedule, there’s no need to make any changes – just be mindful of capping the last nap of the day to avoid bedtime getting too late. You may need to also wake your baby in the morning at their ‘usual’ time to keep the day from moving too late.

Pre-Time Change Schedule for Older Babies

Wake-7:00 am

Nap #1-10:00 am

Nap #2- 2:30 am

Post Time Change Schedule for Older Babies

Wake-7:30/8:00 am (yes, you may have to wake them!)

Nap #1- 10:30 am (old 9:30 am)

Nap #2- 3:00 pm (old 2:00 pm)

After 3-4 days, return to your to your old schedule.  You may have to continue to wake your child up at 7:00 am.

3. Adjust Bedtime

Similarly, you’ll want to shift bedtime by about 30 minutes later as well. If your child typically goes to bed at 7:30 pm, aim for an 8:00 pm bedtime during the adjustment period (which will feel like their usual 7:00 pm bedtime). Again, maintain this adjusted bedtime for 3-4 days before returning to their regular bedtime routine.

4. Be Consistent

Remember, it can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks for your child to fully adjust to the time change, so consistency is key. Stick to your new schedule as closely as possible, even if it means waking your child up in the morning to maintain a consistent wake-up time. This will help their internal body clocks reset more quickly.

5. Get Outside

This is so important! Sunlight and physical activity are your best friends during this adjustment period. Try to get your kiddos outside as much as possible, especially in the morning. Exposure to natural light will help regulate their circadian rhythms and make it easier for them to fall asleep at night. And don’t forget to invest in some blackout curtains to create a sleep-friendly environment, especially as the days get longer.

Consider Ignoring the Time Change

If your child is stuck on an early-to-bed, early-to-rise schedule (like 6:00 pm-5:00 am), this is your opportunity to easily shift their schedule to something a bit more suitable for your family.  Simply adjust their bedtime and wake-up time by an hour to match the new clock time.  Now instead of going to bed at 6:00 pm, bedtime will be at 7:00 pm.  Instead of waking up at 5:00 am, wakeup will be at 6:00 am.  Be sure to adapt their naptimes accordingly and hold to that later wake-up time so your schedule doesn’t start to drift back!

Daycare & School-Age Kiddos

Sometimes kiddos don’t have the luxury of a slow shift into this time change, and that’s ok! If your little one is on a strict schedule for daycare or school, just have them jump into the ‘new time’.  They used to go to bed at 7:00 pm and wake up at 6:30 am before the time change?  Wake them/put them to sleep on the same schedule even after the time change.  Yes, they may be a bit tired for a couple of days, but they will adjust quickly enough.  This time change is a bit more forgiving than the fall time change.

Reach Out for Help

Finally, if you’re struggling with your child’s sleep – whether it’s because of the time change or just a general sleep issue – don’t hesitate to reach out for support. As a certified sleep consultant, I’m here to help you navigate these challenges and find solutions that work for your family. Whether you need advice on sleep training, nap transitions, or bedtime routines, I’ve got the expertise to guide you through it.

In conclusion, while the spring-forward time change may seem daunting at first, with a little planning and patience, you can help your child adjust smoothly and minimize disruptions to their sleep routine. Remember to wait until the actual day of the time change to adjust your clocks, gradually shift naptimes and bedtime, stay consistent with your new schedule, prioritize outdoor time and sunlight exposure, and don’t hesitate to seek professional support if needed. Together, we can make this transition a breeze!

And don’t forget, if you need personalized guidance or support during this time, I’m just a click away for a free 15-minute sleep chat.

Here’s to happier, healthier sleep for the whole family!

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