Changing the clocks back or forward can disrupt a child's sleep cycle, which can affect the entire family. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development. It is important for children of all ages to have consistent bedtimes and relaxing sleep routines.
"They may be harder to put down at bedtime, or awake when they're not supposed to be. When toddlers or older kids get off-schedule or their routines change, they may exhibit 'testing' behaviors," says Angelique Millette, a family sleep consultant in San Francisco (as written in The Bump).
Help your child get a good night’s rest! For better sleep, try these suggestions from our Integrated Pediatric Therapies therapists:
- Give your child a warm bath
- Engage in quiet activities such as reading or listening to a story
- Keep a visual schedule of your child's bedtime routine
- Show pictures of each activity (i.e., eat dinner, take bath, brush teeth, read story, go to bed)
- For older children, write out a checklist
- Make your child's environment conducive to sleep
- Darken the room (dim light for children scared of the dark), keep cool temperatures, choose comfortable pajamas, snuggle with a favorite "lovey"
- Make a gradual transition to a new bedtime to ease into the time change
If your child is waking up in the middle of the night and there is no obvious distress, try to avoid rushing in to him. If you check on your child, try not to talk loudly or encourage play time. Quietly tell him "it's time for sleeping" or don't speak at all. Habits are quickly formed when children receive attention from parents or caregivers. You don't want them to start waking up for the purpose of getting attention.