Adjusting your child to daylight savings time

<i></i>
 Photo: Stocksy

Remember when you loved daylight savings? It signified the beginning of longer days, later nights and warmer weather.

Now, as a parent, daylight savings means excessive sunlight that has the kids refusing to go to sleep, on top of hot, sleepless nights.

Of course, it isn't all bad news – spring and summer bring many of their own joys – but sleep can certainly be disrupted around daylight savings time. And any changes to children's sleeping patterns can bring a challenge for us parents.

If your little one is usually up at 7am, then waking them at 6.45am might seem counterintuitive – but it could make the ...
If your little one is usually up at 7am, then waking them at 6.45am might seem counterintuitive – but it could make the adjustment easier. 

Sleep consultant Chelsea Connolly says very few children cope well with abrupt change, and a one-hour difference to the day is pretty big deal when you're little. The key to successfully adjusting your child's sleep to daylight savings time is in the planning.

"Start four days prior to make it less stressful," Connolly says of the change to your child's routine or rhythm. "The body clock can't just change instantaneously, so doing this gradually helps your child's body clock catch up."

Connolly's strategy for the slow adjustment looks like this:

Four days before daylight savings

"On the first day of preparing for daylight savings, wake your child up 15 minutes earlier than they usually wake," suggests Connolly. If your little one is usually up at 7am, then waking them at 6.45am might seem counterintuitive – but it could make the adjustment easier over the coming week.

Bring the rest of your child's routine forward as well. "Put them down for their nap 15 minutes earlier, give your child lunch 15 minutes earlier, and then to sleep that night 15 minutes earlier than usual," says Connolly.

Advertisement

Three days before daylight savings

The following day, bring everything forward another 15 minutes.

Two days before daylight savings

The next day, shuffle your child's routine forward a further 15 minutes. By this stage, your little one is 45 minutes ahead of their usual time, and almost ready for daylight savings to make its appearance.

One day before daylight savings

On the day before daylight savings, bring everything forward another 15 minutes. Now your child is operating on daylight savings time, and this has hopefully brought with it as little stress as possible.

Additional daylight savings sleep tips

  • "If your child is a little more resistant to change, then start the adjustment a week or 10 days prior to daylight savings," Connolly suggests.
  • Blocking the sunlight in the evening can help with adjusting your child's new bedtime. "Invest in some blackout blinds or outside awnings, or even just use some cardboard or black plastic on the windows," says Connolly. "On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being pitch black, you want the darkness to be at seven or eight."
  • Keep up your usual rhythms leading up to sleep, for example bath, story, bedtime, to encourage the sense of predictability that kids love.
  • Remember that this is all subject to your child's current routine, which may not be as strict as this. However, the idea of gradually adjusting your little one's sleep to match with daylight savings can be tailored to your own situation.

Here's hoping that, with some planning and preparation, daylight savings can once again be a positive thing in your life. Enjoy the extra hour of daylight – after all, if your child is asleep, it's a sunny patch of greatly deserved me-time!