I know some of you dread this time of year each year. I know I do! I don’t like it when it gets darker earlier. It makes me feel lazy and as the weather starts to get “colder” in Southern California, I just want to be inside when it gets dark. Sometimes it is hard enough to be an adult and function effectively through this time change. If you add kids into the equation it can be dreadful. HOWEVER…no need to be stressed! Your babies, toddlers, preschool, and school-age children CAN easily adjust to this time change with a little bit of planning and forethought. There are a few strategies when dealing with sleep and Daylight Saving. You can gradually adjust a whole week before, a few days before, the weekend of the time change, or just wait until the day of the time change. If you follow these simple steps, your little ones will have a seamless transition.
6 month old or babies taking more than 2 naps
For babies under 6 months old, you will want to follow their awake windows. Doing these transitions might not be necessary at this age. As babies grow and are taking 1-2 naps consistently, you will need to adjust their naps the same way you do for bedtime doing increments the same way you do for bedtime.
Since every child is slightly different, let’s use the example of 7 am wake-up and 7 pm bedtime for all of these examples.
You will need to start this transition 1 week prior to Daylight Saving so when the time actually does change, it will not be such a shock. If you are proactive, rather than struggling for several days after the time change, by the time Daylight Saving does come, your child will be settled into the new schedule. I highly recommend this method if you have just done sleep training or you are in the process of sleep training. This will help ease the transition to the new schedule since you and your child have worked so hard to accomplish sleep training. The first thing that you will want to do is start the bedtime routine 10 minutes later each night so that by night 6 your child will be ready for the time change. By the end of the week, your child will have already adjusted to the time change. Do yourself a favor and follow suit with your child (although chances are you won’t do this and neither will I…lol).
Baby Steps to an easier transition to Daylight Saving:
Bedtime 7 pm (adjust according to your child): You will use 10-minute increments daily
Monday night put child down at 7:10
Tuesday night put child down at 7:20
Wednesday night put your child down at 7:30
Thursday night put your child down at 7:40
Friday night put your child down at 7:50
Saturday night put your child down at 8:00
Sunday night put your child down at 7:00 pm (new time!)
Too many steps? Follow these 3 transitions every other day: Bedtime 7 pm (adjust according to your child): You will use 15-minute increments every other day
Monday & Tuesday night put your child down at 7:15
Wednesday & Thursday night put your child down at 7:30
Friday & Saturday night put your child down at 7:45
Sunday night put your child down at 7:00 (new time!)
Want a quicker transition or running out of time?
Friday put your child down at 7:30
Saturday put your child down at 7:45
Sunday put your child down at 7:00 (new time!)
Way too many steps? Wait until the day of and eventually your little one will adjust over time. Easy peasy! However, know that your little one will be waking up “later” for several days and the adjustment could take several days (just like it does for you). You will most likely have to put your child down earlier than normal but that is ok. He/she will adjust.
Naps No Transition
You will need to adjust naps by putting your child down earlier than normal. They will be more tired earlier. For example: if they traditionally nap at 10 am and 2 pm you will need to most likely put them down at 9:30 and 1:30 and have an earlier bedtime of 6:30 until they adjust after a few days.
Be aware of your child’s circadian rhythm during this time as well. I suggest that you go outside with your child within the first few hours of the morning and again as the sun goes down. This helps signal to their body that it is time to wake up or go to sleep as it resets their circadian rhythm.
If you are thinking about potty training, dropping a nap or doing anything that might disrupt their schedule further, I recommend that you wait a few weeks after the time change. Too much disruption in their sleep could backfire.
If your child is waking up earlier than normal, have them stay in their room/crib/bed until the desired time (if possible). Obviously, you don’t want them crying but try to let them stay in there if possible.
As mentioned earlier for the long transition, I highly recommend this method if you have just done sleep training or you are in the process of sleep training your child. This will help ease the transition to the new schedule since you and your child have worked so hard to accomplish sleep training.
If you don’t already have blackout blinds or shades I highly recommend this for early morning wake-ups as the sun will be more prominent in the morning.
Relax and breathe! Don’t stress out during this time. Your child’s schedule will eventually adjust. There might be some meltdowns and you might need to have some extra time with your child during this adjustment, but be patient. They are dealing with time change just like you are!
Most importantly, if you don’t have my favorite sleep product, The Hatch, I highly encourage you to get this product. You can use this early on with a newborn all the way up to your school-aged child. You will adjust the red light/green lights according to the schedule that you chose above.
As always, if you need any help I’m here for you. If “Falling Back” isn’t going so great, schedule a series of calls or help me customize a sleep plan for you! Schedule a call today! https://sleepcafeschedule.as.me/