How to Master the End of Daylight Savings and Get Your Child's Sleep Like a Pro
Updated: May 22, 2021
Every year in the Fall we all change our clocks back to end Daylight Savings. This year it comes to an end on November 3rd, which for a lot of Moms means the dreaded early wake ups by their kiddos.
The biggest reason "Falling Back" causes an issue with young children, more so than older kids, is that children tend to be more structured in their bed time and wake up times.
But! Good News! There are a few things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother.
My biggest recommendation?
Don't touch your clocks until Sunday!
Wake up Sunday morning, enjoy your breakfast, then go around your house changing your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
My favorite trick for helping children with the change is to split the difference between the old-time and the new time. How does that work?
Let's say you have a child that doesn't nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00pm - you would put him to bed at 6:30pm 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, 7:00pm or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
If you have a toddler ages one and older, on Sunday, the first day of the time change, you'll put him down for his first nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if he naps usually at 9:30am put him down at 9:00am.
You would do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap.
For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00pm, you would put him down at 6:30 pm. Do this for 3 nights after the time change. Then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00pm and on 5th-day move naptimes back to normal time.
If your child naps at 9:30 am put him down at 9:30 am and so on with the rest of the day.
Special Note for Toddlers/School-aged children: If your child relies on a clock to know when their “morning time” has come, 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).
Remember this will only be temporary, while your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00am.
If your child wakes up too early, you can walk them back to their room and tell them it’s not time to get up yet.
Infants with a predictable schedule (usually over 6 months of age):
For example, if bedtime is normally 7:00pm 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 pm, the second night 6:30pm, and so on.
On the fourth night, you should be back to 7:00pm. The same goes for naps. Start 45 minutes earlier than normal and move them 15 minutes later each day.
For instance, if morning nap is at 9:00am normally, start with 8:15 am on Sunday, 8:30 am on Monday, 8:45 am on Tuesday and then 9:00 am on Wednesday.
Do the same for the afternoon nap.
Infants with a less-than predictable schedule (usually under 6 months of age):
If baby's bedtime and nap times are not predictable you can easily jump to the new time Sunday night, just as if you were traveling to a new time zone and use their wake time window (awake time between sleep periods) as your guide.
What's great about this new time change? We now have more hours of darkness which helps make this transition a little easier!
If your child wakes up too early and is in a crib, you can actually help his body to understand that it isn't morning yet by keeping him in his crib, with the room dark, until his usual wake up time.
Keep in mind, It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep and 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.