A Guide for Adjusting Your Child’s Sleep This Daylight Saving Time – Fall Back
Daylight Saving Time is coming on Sunday, October 30th this year. Will it affect your child’s sleep? Oh YES, it definitely will, but I will be sharing with you my best tips to survive Daylight Saving – Fall Back and make it a success for your entire family.
When is the Best Time to Get Started?
There are two approaches on how to deal with Daylight Saving: one is to prepare your child’s body clock prior to the time change and the other one is to wait for the Daylight Saving weekend to start making changes.
I want to make your child’s sleep adjustment as easy and realistically possible as it can be for you, so I will focus on the second approach. We will wait for the Daylight Saving weekend to take action.
When it comes to your little one’s sleep, as it is for most changes in life, having the right mindset is key. When we “Fall Back”, or gain an hour of sleep, what comes most natural to us is to reset the clocks before we head off to bed. It’s best not to do it! It’s going to be upsetting or underwhelming for you to see your child up an hour earlier in the morning. Most clocks automatically adjust these days, so just don’t look at the clock for at least a couple of hours after you have woken up (or you have been woken up!).
On Sunday, wake up at your usual time and start the day. This means that it might be 5:00am or 6:00am but the actual feeling in your system is that it’s an hour later, 6:00am or 7:00am. Grab your cup of coffee (or favorite beverage!) and only when you’re feeling fully awake and mentally ready, change all the clocks. Believe me, it will feel much much better this way!
Babies (4-13 months of age)
Take the time of your child’s first nap and move it earlier for 3 days (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday). If your little one usually takes a first nap around 9:30am, bring it up to 9am for the first three days. It will of course be a little stretch to your little one (since it feels like 10:00am to him), but it won’t be so hard to mess up his entire schedule. You will do the same with the second and third nap of the day, simply move them up by 30 minutes for the first 3 days.
From Wednesday, after the three days have passed, move all the naps back to the “old times”. This means that your 9:30am nap will be offered at 9:30am again.
For bedtime you will use the same principle recommended for naps. If your little one normally goes to bed at 7.30pm, I recommend putting him to bed at 7:00pm for the first three days (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday). To him, it feels like 8:00pm.
How long will this last?
Usually it takes about a full week for everyone, including adults, to get used to this time change. For the first three days make the adjustments as needed. Three days should be giving your little one’s body clock enough time to then jump back to the “old” sleep times.
Toddlers can handle the Daylight Saving more easily than babies. If your little one is over the age of two you can use a toddler clock like the Mirari Ok to Wake! Clock or the Hatch Rest. Set the clock half an hour earlier during the adjustment week and let them get up a little earlier as their body gets gradually adjusted to the new time. By the end of the week their bodies should be back on track and they’ll be sleeping until their normal wake up time.
On the fourth night of the week (Wednesday) your child’s body clock should be quite used to the new change. Get them back on their usual 7:00pm bedtime, and move naps accordingly.
Preschoolers and School-Aged Children
For kids 3 and older, adjusting to the new time is going to be a pretty straightforward deal. If your child has been consistently sleeping well at night, it may be enough to simply put him to sleep a bit earlier, 20 minutes or so, for the first three days after the time change. A lot of school-aged children adapt well to the time change even without altering bedtime, even though it’s normal for them to wake up about an hour earlier for the first few days after Daylight Saving. Encourage them to stay in bed a little longer after waking up (15 minutes will be enough) to let their body clocks acclimate to the new wake-up time.
Don’t forget about YOU, adults!
Remember to prioritize your sleep too! Push your bedtime a little earlier too since you’ll be waking up early as well. There is actually an estimated 6% increase in auto accidents each year during the week of the time change, so make sure your sleep needs are fulfilled.