Helping Kids Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

Don't let the changing of the clocks get your kids wound up. Credit: Getty Images

Whether we are springing forward or falling back, the changing of the clocks can play havoc on a child's sleep schedule. Here are some tips for helping your kids adjust to time change.

Springing ahead: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March. On that day, we essentially lose an hour when 2 a.m. suddenly becomes 3 a.m. Sixty minutes may not seem like much, but for a kid who just lost an hour of sleep, it can be rough. Help your child adjust by following this advice:

  • Don't try to compensate for the lost hour by allowing your child to sleep in, as this will only increase the amount of time it takes to adjust. Instead, maintain a regular schedule and expect some crankiness for a few days.
  • Instead of changing the time in one fell swoop, spread it out over a few days. Go to bed and rise 15 minutes earlier for a few days before the official time change.
  • Move your clocks forward on Saturday morning instead of Sunday. This trick won't necessarily help your kids adjust quicker, but it will mean they aren't experiencing their first night of Daylight Saving Time on a school night.
  • Once the clocks have changed, it will take a few days for everyone to fully adjust. Avoid naps close to bedtime and plan time for some relaxing evening baths or reading a book in bed before lights out.
  • Sunshine is the body's most powerful regulator. Make sure your kids spend plenty of time getting outdoor exercise during the day.
Falling back: Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November. Gaining an hour is easier than losing one, but can still mess up a child's internal body clock.

  • Maintain consistency in bedtimes. Your kids may not feel sleepy for the first few nights, but keeping them on a regular schedule will help them adjust more quickly.
  • For younger kids who nap during the day, help them to feel sleepy at night by shortening naps by about 15 minutes on the days leading up to the change.
  • Spend as much time as possible getting exercise and soaking up the sunshine.
A kid doesn't need to be able to tell time to realize that something is different when we lose or gain an hour on the clock. Talking to your kids about what is happening can help them feel better about feeling out of sorts. However you manage it, remember that your kids will adjust in a short time. And remember, the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time are the perfect times to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and ensure that they are in good working order.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.