Babies and young children, unfortunately, don’t care about our “fall back.” They need their routine, and they’re going to wake up when they always do — to the chagrin of sleep-deprived moms and dads everywhere.
What’s a baggy-eyed parent to do to catch some extra zzz’s?
Here are some tips from Lee Atkinson-McEvoy, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.
Gradually move your child’s sleep schedule
First off, the bad news: Parents should have started this a month in advance, Atkinson-McEvoy told CNN.
But it works. Gradually moving your child’s sleeping schedule about 15 minutes later in the lead up to daylight saving shift gets your child adjusted, she said.
“If you work on shifting bedtime a few weeks in advance, it goes much more smoothly,” she said.
You may not have thought about this weeks ago. But consider this gradual approach for when we “spring forward” next March. In that case, gradually move your child’s sleeping schedule about 15 minutes earlier — and you’ll have a much easier time getting them up and ready for school on that first Monday.
Start your routines at a different time
No one just lies down and goes straight to bed, Atkinson-McEvoy said.
Most people have routines. They take a shower. Brush their teeth. Dim the lights.
Adjust when you begin these pre-bedtime rituals, and it will help your child fall asleep when you need them to, she said.
The hardest part: Make sure they stay in bed
You could do all these strategies, and your child still might wake up early. Getting them to stay in bed longer is the hardest part, said Atkinson-McEvoy.
She recommends setting rules around when the kids could leave their bed. For younger kids, especially, around 2 or 3 years old, visual cues help — like alarm clocks that change color at a certain time. Then, the child knows they can begin their day.
“Parents may have to compromise, like letting them look at a book or play with a toy,” she said. “They might hear the child, but compromise by making them stay in the room.”
And if you have older kids …
For school-age children, melatonin supplements might be an option, Atkinson-McEvoy said. However, parents should talk to their pediatricians before using.