Time change tough for kids

Published 12:02 am Saturday, March 12, 2011

It’s that time of year again. Time to “spring forward” into daylight savings time tomorrow.
The days will get longer, spring will be emerging, but it can also merit a difficult time for parents and children at bedtime.
Jennifer Chambers, mother of two and assistant professor pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham offered some tips to parents this week.
“Moms with little ones are either bracing for these sleep disturbances or not thinking about it at all and will scramble to get children to sleep afterward with much frustration,” she said. “Personally, I have sleep-finicky kids, so I do all of these things and still have to hang dark sheets over the windows that first week. But you need to remove the sheets in the morning, so the light can come through the window to help reset their internal clock. Hanging the sheets is cumbersome, but it works. After that, their own little bodies will adjust and begin to take the lead and get them to bed without so much work on your part.”
Chambers offers the following tips:
• Stick to the routine. Chambers encourages parents to be strict with keeping a normal bedtime.
• Eat meals on time or 30 minutes earlier. Chambers says meal times help set the day’s routine more than anything else.
• Go to bed earlier. Put children to bed a little early Saturday night so they wake up earlier.
• Don’t let them sleep late Sunday. If you do, they won’t be tired by bedtime.
• Shift naps. Make children take a nap earlier and do not extend them the first week. Chambers said some parents are tempted to skip the nap, hoping this will make the child go to bed at an earlier time, but she says some children need the nap to help them rest better at night.
• Explain to children what is going on. If you have children old enough to understand daylight savings time, it could help. Chambers says many children find it intriguing and ask a multitude of questions about the ability to change time.
• Be a little lax with bedtime the week after the change. Set bedtime 30 minutes later than normal this week to help with the transition.
Chambers also suggested that parents who choose to set later bedtimes for children during the spring and summer months, should not push back the bedtime any more than 30 minutes, in order to ensure good sleep habits and prevent kids from being overtired.
Daylight savings officially begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, and residents should remember to set their clocks forward.