Spring Forward! Tips on How to Help Your Child Adjust to the Start of Daylight Savings Time


By: Jenn Kelner, CPA, CA
Certified Child Sleep Consultant

On Sunday March 8th at 2am, Daylight Saving Time begins and the clocks turn ahead one hour. This means that it becomes darker in the morning temporarily and lighter in the evenings. Children who have good sleep hygiene and are generally easy going when it comes to schedules may adjust fairly easily in just a day or two. Other children who are more sensitive to change in schedules may have more trouble adjusting. Regardless of how your child might react, you can follow these 5 easy tips to help your child adjust to the start of Daylight Saving Time.

Young Girl Asleep on Pillow
You can prepare 3 days ahead of time by moving your child’s entire daytime schedule earlier in 15 minute increments. Start by offering breakfast 15 minutes earlier, then naptime 15 minutes earlier and so on until the entire daytime schedule has been shifted. If you would rather wait until after the time change, you can shift their schedule earlier in increments starting on Monday. The gradual shift should help their internal clock adjust, making it less likely that they will lose sleep.

2. Avoid bright light close to bedtime
About an hour or two before your child’s bedtime, dim the lights in the house and avoid the use of electronics. Minimizing the exposure to bright light will encourage the body’s production of melatonin, which will help your child get sleepy before bed. Make sure your child’s bedroom is really dark and consider using some room darkening curtains so that the new early evening light doesn’t make it more difficult to fall asleep.

3. Start the day off right
If your child sleeps in later than their normal wake up time, go in and wake them so that you can start the day on the new time. Make sure all of your child’s activities and naps happen on the new time to help them adjust as quickly as possible.

4. Expose your child to plenty of daylight
Try to expose your child to plenty of light, especially in the morning. This will help reset their circadian clock making it easier to adjust to the new time.

5. Be patient
Some children adjust easier than others, but the key is to relax, be patient, and be consistent, and their internal clocks should be back on track in just a few days.