On Sunday, March 10th, we will wake up to a day that has gotten a head start on us as we “spring forward” one hour.  Ugh!  I can hear you groaning along with a deafening chorus of sleep deprived parents who are mourning the loss of a precious hour of sleep.

I don’t know how it happens at your house, but at mine my smart phone taunts me with the time change as soon as I open my eyes on Sunday morning.  And as much as we grown-ups don’t like this slight-of hand trick, we adapt pretty quickly.

For babies and toddlers the time change is a bit of a Goldilocks story.  It’s an opportunity to make sure your child has a just right sleep schedule.  With some kiddos you won’t have to do anything at all to get to that perfect schedule.  With others you might want to make gradual shifts between now and Sunday to maintain an already great schedule. And for others, this may be the just right time to consider a complete overhaul of your child’s sleep schedule because the current one just isn’t working.

 The time change may make everything just right.

For those babies who are going to bed too early (is there such a thing???) or waking too early…you’re in luck!  You can just sit tight, do nothing and voila…your little one will now have a much improved schedule. Once the time changes, a 7:00 p.m. bedtime is magically now an 8:00 p.m. bedtime.  And a crazy early 5:00 a.m. wake up is now a semi-civilized 6:00 a.m. start to the day.

The current schedule is just right and you want to keep it.

For children whose schedules are just right before the time change, parents can help them stay the course by gradually shifting sleep times a little earlier each day.  Every night between now and Sunday, move your child’s dinner, soothing sleep routine, and bedtime 10-15 minutes earlier.  By Saturday night, your child’s typical 7:00 p.m. bedtime will have shifted to 6:10 pm.  Come Sunday she should be able to easily slip into bedtime at 7:00 pm new time (which was 6 pm old time). Voila!

Your child’s current sleep schedule isn’t working and the time change may only make it worse.

Maybe your child doesn’t really have a bedtime or naptimes are all over the place.  Maybe he is waking throughout the night way past when it’s developmentally expected.  Maybe your child can only fall asleep holding your hand, at the breast, when you’re rocking him or dancing to music.  Regardless of what it looks like, if your child’s current sleep situation is causing your child (and you) to be overtired, cranky, and frustrated, this might be a perfect time for a sleep plan designed to help everyone get a good night’s sleep.

At Weiss Pediatric Care, we have a certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist on staff who helps our families with the basics of a great sleep plan.  For those who would benefit from having a comprehensive sleep consultation, we refer to an amazing sleep consultant who provides personalized sleep plans based on children’s ages, developmental capacities, and temperaments, as well as, parents’ sleep goals and parenting styles,.  And…she will walk along side families for up to two weeks to ensure success.

Wherever your child falls on the “Goldilocks sleep continuum”, we wish you great sleep and sweet dreams!