Adjusting Routine to Daylight Savings Time

While some people look forward to the brighter evenings that Daylight Saving Time brings, time changes can be a source of frustration for families and their children. As March 10th draws near, plan ahead for the impact the time shift can have on the circadian rhythms of our kids.

According to Dr. Jack Maypole, pediatrician at Boston Medical Center and member ofThe Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board, here are some tips to help.

  • Adjust bedtime. A few days before the clocks spring forward, start moving bedtime earlier in 15-minute increments. For example, if your child goes to bed at 7:30 PM, your four-day bedtime schedule would be: 7:15 PM, 7:00 PM, 6:45 PM and 6:30 PM. This gradual adjustment will make the time change feel less drastic for your little one.
  • Eat a little earlier.  A day or so before the time change, move your mealtimes a bit earlier. If an hour is challenging, try 15 – 30 minutes.
  • Modify naptime. Pay attention to your child’s sleeping cues. If they wake up in the morning later than usual, they will likely need to adjust their nap schedule accordingly. Focus more on how long they’ve been awake over the day rather than what time it is, especially in the first week or two after the time change.
  • Find the sunshine. Tap into your child’s daily rhythm and get sun exposure throughout the day. It’s most helpful in the morning and again in the late afternoon between 4:00 and 5:00 PM. Help their brains unplug and wind down. Try to keep screens and other electronics off 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime, too.
  • Be consistent. While daylight saving time requires some adjustments to your schedule, it’s important to keep a child’s milestones to bedtime intact. Routines provide children with a glidepath of predictability and comfort.  So: bathing, teeth brushing, book reading and getting tucked in should stay the same even during these times of seasonal change.
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