Daylight Savings [Fall Back]
Updated: Jan 8, 2022
Daylight Savings and Your Child's Sleep
Daylight savings ends this weekend where our clocks “fall back.” Despite the extra hour we gain during the day, it can be a dreaded time for parents of young children who don't make adjustment 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.
1. Start on Sunday
My recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
2. Split the Difference
School Age Childre
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.
If you have a toddler ages 1+, 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.
Infant (usually 6mo+; if bedtime and naps are predictable/consistent)
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 6:30 p.m., and so on. On the fourth night you should be back to 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.
Babies (0-6 months old; if bedtime and naptimes 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.
3. Pro tip
A great thing about this time change is that there are more hours of darkness which helps make this transition a little easier.
Clocks 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.
Early Morning Wakings
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.
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. Be patient and stay very consistent, it will happen.
Focus on Bedtime Routine
Prime your child for sleep by keeping with bedtime and nap routines. Your child will learn that sleep should follow next when they get into bed.
Patient, Positive Mindset
Expect a little more fussiness or tantrums during the days following daylight savings. Your child's body clock is still making adjustments and it can throw them off a bit more than the usual. Support your child with a few extra cuddles and low-key activities that are engaging and new to help take the edge off. I personally like do a few extra crafts that can be found at the dollar store.
As much as time change can be a hurdle for our little ones, parents find it challenging as well. Plan out your week and make sure you take care of your needs as well.
If you're dealing with more than a daylight-savings-hurdle and want more support with age appropriate sleep solutions that lead to positive sleep patterns, book a complimentary sleep assessment call with me. My 1-1 private consultations can help you get sleep improvements quickly and without all the stress.