Advice for sound slumber
When the clocks spring ahead an hour this weekend, some children may have difficulty dealing with the time change.
Parents can help their little ones adjust with a few simple steps, according to doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Maintaining the child's bedtime routine is very important, they said. Kids fall asleep best when they have a routine and avoid screens and caffeine right before bed.
The hospital offered the following advice to make bedtime smoother following the start of Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, March 13 - and every day.
For additional sleep tips, visit nationwidechildrens.org/children-sleep-tips.
How to Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
1. Keep it consistent. A good bedtime routine should start about the same time and follow the same steps every night. An occasional shift in bedtime - on weekend evenings when you want to spend a bit more time outside before bed, for example - is fine, but shifting the start of your child's routine by more than 60 minutes can make it difficult for kids to fall and stay asleep. Also, letting your child or teenager sleep in late on weekends can make it more difficult for them to fall asleep at an appropriate time on weekdays.
2. Limit screen time before bed. Children should stop using electronic devices (think smartphones, tablets, computers, video games and TV) at least 30 minutes before the bedtime routine begins. These devices can disrupt the brain's production of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin, and that disruption harms your child's sleep cycle.
3. Keep the routine short and sweet. A bedtime routine should be no longer than 20 or 30 minutes (40 if it includes a bath) and should include things a child enjoys and finds calming. For some toddlers, a bath can be more stimulating than soothing. For kids who are struggling to learn how to read, independent reading time before bed might be too frustrating. Find activities your kids love and incorporate those into the routine instead.
4. Keep moving toward the bedroom. Bathtime upstairs, a snack or bottle downstairs, books upstairs, back into the bathroom to brush teeth - moving around too much can be disruptive. All of the steps in a bedtime routine should keep you and your child moving toward the bedroom.
5. Help kids develop healthy sleep associations. Always try to put a child into bed awake. If your baby requires a feeding before going to sleep, it should happen earlier in the bedtime routine, so he doesn't nod off before getting into bed. Work on creating sleep associations that will be there with your child throughout the night. A mobile or nightlight that turns off after 45 minutes is not a good idea, unless your child can turn it back on herself.
-Melissa Kossler Dutton