Daylight Savings Time Ends – How to Prep Your Toddlers
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Across most of the United States, daylight savings time ends on the first Sunday of November. Your clocks are easy to change—your toddler’s bedtime routine is more complicated. You can’t fool your child’s body into thinking what was 6:30 pm on Saturday is 5:50 pm on Sunday and the result is often cranky kids who resist their new bedtime or are up an hour earlier than you’d like on Monday morning. Some toddler prep for daylight savings helps your child adapt to the time shift (and makes life easier for you, too).
Suddenly turning the clocks back and expecting toddlers to adapt immediately to the time change doesn’t work—and why should it? We’re all bleary-eyed and off-schedule for days after DST ends. When toddlers and daylight savings time interact, the effect is the same for them.
Start your toddler prep for daylight savings time about a week before DST ends. Slowly shift your child’s bedtime a little later by ten or fifteen minutes a night. When you get to an hour later than her current bedtime, you’ve reached her new post-daylight-saving time bedtime. This makes switching to the new bedtime less abrupt. In the spring, reverse the process, slowly putting her to bed a few minutes earlier.
Lights, Toddlers, and Daylight Savings Time
The human body regulates sleep with an internal clock called the circadian cycle. The body increases the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin in the evening and stops producing melatonin in the morning.
The melatonin cycle depends strongly on how much light is in the environment. Too much artificial light in the evening will make it more difficult for toddlers to fall asleep. Turning off electronic devices and dimming the lights before bed helps prepare children for sleep.
When daylight savings ends, keep the lights bright for a little longer to keep toddlers active until closer to bedtime. In the morning, blackout curtains will help children sleep until their new rising time.
Add a Bedtime Incentive
In the days after daylight savings ends, toddler’s bodies are telling them bedtime is coming too early, and children may resist bedtime as a result. Adding a fun new bedtime story, such as the beautifully-illustrated Goodnight Little Me, can give children a reason to want bedtime to start.
One Last Thought
You can do all the toddler prep possible for daylight savings and still have a cranky, moody toddler for a few days. Remember how daylight savings time affects you, and be a little forgiving with tantrums for a day or two. Both of you will soon adapt to the new sleep schedule and everything will go back to normal. . . until daylight savings begins again in March!