Category Archives: Time changes

Sleep tips for summertime travel

summertime sleep tipsSummer is finally here and you are probably looking forward to spending time outside, going for stroller walks, exploring the parks, going to the beach and taking a vacation.  But if this is your first summer as a parent, vacation takes on a vastly different meaning then it once did pre-parenthood.  Gone are the days of relaxing on the beach with your trashy novel or endlessly exploring a new city without any real plan.  Like most things that were once simple before you had a baby, travel too has become more complicated.  If you have finally figured out how to get your baby sleeping well, taking a trip can be a daunting prospect.  In fact, travel is one of the top five sleep stealers followed closely by illness, developmental milestones, teething, inconsistency.  Inevitably, travel will cause some sleep disruptions for your child.  There is really no way around this.  You can, however, with a little planning, do your best to minimize the challenges and get her back on track as quickly as possible when you get home.  Here are some tips to help everyone have as restful vacation as possible.

  • Before heading out on the road, make sure you already have established a consistent and predictable pre-sleep routine for both bedtime and naps.  This way, when you are traveling, you can replicate that routine and your child will find comfort in the familiarity of what happens before sleep.  In general, the better your child sleeps at home, the better chance you have that she will sleep well while traveling.
  • Try to recreate your child’s sleep environment when you are away from home.  For some children, this may mean bringing with their crib sheet, a pillow, a favorite book and a nightlight.  Don’t forget your white noise machine and most importantly, your child’s lovey (which should go in your carry on in case your luggage is lost).
  • If at all possible, try having your child sleep in the same place for the whole trip.  This means if your parents and your in laws live in the same city, try picking a “home base” for sleeping.  You can switch and go to the other side of the family for the next trip.  Switching sleeping locations frequently can disrupt sleep for even the most easy going sleeper.
  • If you are staying at a hotel, be sure to contact them ahead of time to find out what they provide for your child to sleep in.  Some have Pack n Plays, others feeble excuses for cribs with wheels that tend to roll away with your child in them.  If you are not happy with the sleeping accommodations your hotel offers or you are staying with family who don’t have children, and therefore all the accoutrements that go with them, you can rent all sorts of baby/child related supplies (even toys!) from companies like Babies Away.
  • Respect your child’s need for sleep.  While traveling, it is understandable that many naps are going to be in the car or stroller, make sure that you are somehow helping your child get the day sleep he/she needs (if your child still naps).  Bedtime may be late some nights but overall, aim for approximately the same bedtime as at home.  This will help your whole family have a more enjoyable vacation since your child won’t be having meltdowns due to overtiredness.
  • If you are traveling through time zones, wake your child at the usual wake up time both once you get to your destination and when you return home.

Once you get home, spend a couple of days working on getting back to your usual routine and returning to your normal schedule.  No matter where you are going or what the trip turns out like, just remember, it gets easier and someday, you will be able to go on an actual vacation again that doesn’t require time to recover afterwards.

Springing forward: Sleep tips for Daylight Savings

sunny sleeping babyRemember the days when you used to lament that you had one less hour of sleep at night every spring?  Here is your chance to celebrate the beginning of Daylight Savings (which, for 2017, begins early Sunday morning, March 12).  This is the one day a year that your kids will wake up later.  For those of you with early risers, enjoy it!

In general, children typically adjust to time changes with in a few days.  Here are some tips to help keep things on track:

  • Maintain your consistent and predictable bedtime routines.  These activities are comforting to your child as you prepare for the separation of sleep.  Children develop strong associations between bedtime routine and sleep and it helps them to anticipate what comes next.
  • Make sure your child’s room is dark, even when it is light outside.  This becomes much more important with the spring time change as it will be begin to get light earlier in the day and it is often also still light at bedtime.  In the middle of the summer when the sun is coming up at 5:30am, you want to make sure that it is still dark in your child’s room or wherever he/she is sleeping.  Having a darkened room will make it easier to sleep at bedtime as well.
  • Continue to respond to your child consistently for any awakenings.
  • Change your clocks before going to bed on Saturday night.

As far as preparing your child for the time change, some children will adjust on there own as you begin to implement their normal schedule in the new time.  If this is your plan and your baby normally naps at 9am and 2pm, continue to put him down at 9am and 2pm in the new time.  You may notice a few days of it taking longer to fall asleep for naps and bedtime as his body hasn’t quite regulated to the fact that it is now an hour later.

If your baby is particularly sensitive to these sorts of changes, you can try to prepare your child for the time change by shifting his schedule 15 minutes earlier, starting 4 days before the time change happens.  This means that starting on Wednesday, wake your child from his naps 15 minutes earlier then normal.  Put him to bed 15 minutes earlier at bedtime, you can also work on waking him 15 minutes earlier the next morning as well and shift each nap a bit earlier each day.  You can also respond “post time change” by waking your child 15 minutes earlier on Sunday morning and throughout the day.  This can be done a little less gradually by shifting the schedule 30 minutes earlier over 2 days versus 15 minutes over 4 days.

Sleep tips for holiday travel

holiday travelHolidays and holiday travel often throw our children for a loop both in terms of their behavior and their sleep.  Some children are rather adaptable and cope well with changes and disruptions while others have a harder time with it.  For many children, the holidays mean that schedules are disrupted or there are environmental circumstances are beyond parents’ control.  Here are some tips to help with holiday travel sleep disruptions.  Keep in mind, if your child sleeps well at home, it is likely that he will sleep well while traveling but some children really struggle with sleep away from home:

  • Try to stick to your same nap and bedtime routine that you have at home while you are away.  This will help our child know what to expect and when to expect it.
  • Try to replicate your child’s sleep environment from home as much as possible.  Be sure to bring along your child’s security object, bedtime stories, and night light.  For babies, if he will be sleeping in a crib while traveling, bring along the crib sheets from home.  Children are very sensitive to smell often find comfort in their familiar smelling bedding.
  • Don’t forget to bring along the white noise—especially if you use it at home.  If you don’t have room, there are many white noise apps available.  Even if you don’t use white noise at home, it can be a good idea for travel where you may have less control over the environmental noises both in a hotel and while staying with relatives.
  • Black out the windows where your child will be sleeping.  Hotels typically have great black out curtains.  If you will be in a home, you can use dark colored disposable table cloths or even garbage bags behind curtains or shades to make rooms darker.
  • Make sure you have a good place for your child to sleep.  Check with your hotel to find out if they have pack n plays or portable cribs.  Hotel portable cribs are often metal and not very sturdy.  If you have an older child, sometimes a pack n play is a better option.   Since holidays are busy times for hotels, make sure to reserve the pack n play ahead of time.
  • If your child is still napping and especially if he is under 3 years old, try to return to where he is sleeping at night for naps as well.  This may not be convenient and if it isn’t possible, a nap in a stroller or the car is better then no nap at all.
  • If it is possible for your children to sleep in a separate room from you, this usually makes things easier.  If it isn’t possible, try putting up a visual barrier by hanging a bed sheet so they can’t see you.
  • Avoid overly exciting activities right before bed.   As a general rule, avoiding television or other screens an hour or two before bedtime is advised as it can interfere with melatonin production.
  • If you are traveling across time zones and you are only going to be gone a few days, you can consider keeping your child’s schedule on your home time zone.   Be sure to keep meal times appropriate for your home time zone as well.  If you are going to be gone for longer or the time change is too great, check out this article for helping your child adjust to time zone changes.
  • Try to stick to your child’s schedule as much as you can while still having fun on your trip.  Parents are often of one of two schools of thought:  we are going to throw caution to the wind with the schedule and deal with the consequences later or we are going to stick to the schedule even though it may mean sacrificing some vacation fun.  Which ever you choose, there will be a few days needed for adjustment when you return home.  Help your child get back on track by quickly returning to your normal, consistent and predictable routine when you are home again.


Falling back: Daylight Savings time change tips

Time ChangeDo you remember the days when the end of Daylight Savings meant that you got a bonus hour of sleep?  Those were the days when you could stay out another hour on Saturday night and still get the same amount of sleep.  Fast forward to now, when you are a parent, and that extra hour in the day means your children will now be up an hour earlier and you have extra hour in the day to contend with.

Here are some tips on how to handle the time change:

  • Put your child to bed at the regular time on Saturday night.
  • Wake up at your normal waking time on Sunday morning (forgetting that the time actually changed at 2am).
  • Now set your clocks back one hour.
  • Put your child down at the regular time for their nap according to the new time.  Since your child will have been awake a full hour longer before their nap, they may need some help getting through to what feels like a later nap time.  This is a great time to get outside, get some fresh air and some natural sunlight.
  • Follow the clock for naps and bedtime from here on out.  Keep in mind that you need to keep meals at their regular times too.  Your child may need a snack to help with hunger at the old meal time.  It will take a few days for your child to adjust so be patient and consistent.

For children younger who are still taking more then one nap, they may have a hard time stretching a full hour without becoming too overtired.  In this situation, it may be easier to stretch them 30 minutes before the morning nap and 30 minutes before the afternoon nap.  You can also spread this out over several days to help them adjust.

For children under 6 months, it may be that you can only move them by 15 minutes, in which case I would recommend spending 4 days moving their schedule later until they are back to napping at their normal times.  Children who are very sensitive to change or have sensory issues may need a more gradual adjustment as well.

Keep in mind that it can take some children up to a week to adjust to this time change.  Be patient but keep working on adjusting them to the new time rather then thinking about what time it would have been before the time changed.  Good luck!