Are you ready to “Fall-Back” with Daylight Savings Time?

It can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because of daylight savings time, and the adjustment does not happen immediately. This is because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning and that is why people usually can see a greater effect on children when the time changes.

However, there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother.  My recommendation is to leave your clocks alone Saturday night.  Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks.  Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.

My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference between the old-time and the new time.  How does that work?

  • School-Age Children- If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00 p.m., you would put him to bed at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. Do this for 3 nights, putting him to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal, then on the 4th night put him to bed at the normal time, 7:00 p.m. or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
  • Toddlers- If you have a toddler ages one and older, on Sunday the first day of the time change, you would put him down for his first nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if he naps usually at 9:30 a.m. put him down at 9:00 a.m.  You would do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap.  For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00 p.m., you would put him down at 6:30 p.m.   Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00 p.m. and on 5th-day move naptimes back to normal time.   So if your child naps at 9:30 a.m. put him down at 9:30 a.m. and so on with the rest of the day.
  • Infants- If you have a baby and his bedtime and naps have become predictable (usually over 6 months old) meaning he is always going to bed around the same time each day. For example, if bedtime is normally 7:00 p.m. move bedtime 15 minutes later each night until you reach the normal time again.  So the first night you would put him down at 6:15 p.m., the second night at 6:30 p.m., and so on.  On the fourth night, you should be back at 7:00 p.m.  Do the same thing for naps.  Start 45 minutes earlier than normal and move them 15 minutes later each day.  So if morning nap is at 9:00 a.m. normally, start with 8:15 a.m. on Sunday, 8:30 a.m. on Monday, 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday and then 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

Do the same for the afternoon nap.  If their bedtime and naptimes are not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone and use their wake time window (awake time between sleep periods) as your guide.

A great thing about daylight savings is that there are more hours of darkness which helps make this transition a little easier.  If your child wakes up too early, walk them back to their room and tell them it’s not time to get up yet.   If your child wakes up too early and is in a crib, be sure to help his body understand it isn’t morning time by keeping him in his crib in the dark-room until normal wake time.

Note for Toddlers/School-aged children: If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock to know when their “morning time” has arrived, set the clock one half-hour ahead of the new time so that it reads 7:00 a.m. at the new time of 6:30 a.m.  Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 according to the clock but it will be 6:30 a.m., new time). This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 a.m. time after about one or two weeks.

It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal since the time is different initially they might seem tired earlier.   It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, some children can take up to a month.  Be patient and stay very consistent, it will happen. If you need help with daylight savings or sleep in general, reach out and let’s chat!

My name is Courtney Zentz, a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Postpartum Doula, Lactation Counselor and founder of Tiny Transitions. As an award-winning sleep consultant, I help exhausted parents teach their infants & toddlers to sleep well every night with gentle, customized solutions and both group and private coaching options, so your family can all be at their best. Based in Philadelphia, I work in-home and virtually to provide the support families around the globe that need to all be at their best. In addition, Rosie Hawley, the newest addition to the Tiny Transitions team is a New Jersey-based Sleep Consultant, supporting families locally and across the country too! Read more about us here & let’s chat!

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