I love the fall season, it makes me so happy because I get to watch football, see the leaves turn beautiful colors, go to pumpkin patches with the kids and fill my home with all the lovely and abundant fall scents.
As a sleep consultant, the one thing that doesn’t bring a smile to my face is when we wake up one Sunday morning and have to change our clocks! Of course, getting an extra hour of sleep is always a bonus, unless you have a baby or multiple children who wake at 6AM because that means they will be waking at 5AM. That is just too early to be awake.
This year Daylight saving ends on November 4th. As we “fall back” an hour it can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because this adjustment does not happen immediately. The reason for this is children are more structured in their bedtime and when they wake up, this is why parents can see a greater affect of Daylight savings ending on their children.
Good news is, there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go smoother.
Tip #1: Leave your clocks alone Saturday night.
Tip #2: Split the difference with the old time and the new time. Say what?!?!
School Age Kids
If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7PM, you would put them to bed at 6:30PM on Sunday night, remember their bodies will think it’s 7:30PM. Do this for 3 nights, putting them to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal, then on the 4th night put him to bed at the normal time, 7PM or whatever normal bedtime for your child is.
If you have a toddler(s) and older that are still taking one nap, then what you will do is on Sunday, the first day of the time change, put them down for nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if nap is usually at 12PM put them down at 11:30AM and for bedtime you do the same, if bedtime is normally 7PM then you would put them down at 6:30PM. Do this for 3 days and on the 4th push everything back to normal time.
Baby 7 months to Young Toddlers (2 naps)
Same idea applies for babies and young toddlers still taking 2 naps. If first nap is 9:30am then you would put them down on Sunday at 9am and do the same for their afternoon nap and bedtime. Do this for 3 days for naps and bedtime and on the 4th day move everything back to normal time.
Infants (6 months and younger)
If you have a baby and their bedtime and naps have become somewhat predictable, meaning they are going to bed around the same time each day. For example, if bedtime is normally 7PM then move bedtime 15 minutes later each night until you reach the normal time again. So the first night you would put baby down at 6:15PM, the second night 6:30PM, and so on. On the 4th night you will be back to your normal bedtime of 7PM. Do the same for naps, start 45 minutes earlier than normal and move them back 15 minutes later each day.
If morning nap is at 8AM normally, start with 7:15AM on Sunday, 7:30AM on Monday, 7:45AM on Tuesday and then 8AM on Wednesday.
Do the same for all other naps.
If their bedtime and nap times are not predictable 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 this time change 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 am at the new time of 6:30 am. Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 am according to the clock but it will be 6:30 am, new time). This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 am 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 it can take up to a month.
Is your little one having trouble sleeping and it has nothing to do with the upcoming time change?
Here’s to an easy adjustment to the time change,