Daylight savings time is coming up this weekend! I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep. So what is the best way to handle it? My advice is to “split the difference.”
For “Fall Back,” 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!
If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30 a.m., you will adjust this to 9:00 a.m. for the three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap.
Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7:00 p.m. I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 p.m. for the first three days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30 p.m. to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.
If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Also, set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 a.m. it says 7:00 a.m. and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wake-up time.
If you are dealing with a baby, you cannot do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6:00 a.m. is okay now. So if she normally wakes at 7:00 a.m., but is now up at 6:00 a.m., you will wait till ten after the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 6:30 a.m. the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 p.m. Adjust naps to the correct time on day four as well.
Remember, it takes time for all of us to adjust to the new time. Following these strategies will make sure that your little one does it smoothly and without trouble!
However, if your little one isn’t sleeping at night or napping well during day and you’re thinking it’s time to do something about, schedule a free 15-minute call with me! I would love to chat and learn more about sleep for your little one and your family.