Daylight Savings starts this weekend, Sunday, November 6th and it can be a day parents dread. Setting back clocks may only take a few minutes, but it takes longer than that for our little ones to adjust to a new bedtime and wake-up time. Children are more structured with their bedtime and wake-up time and therefore we see more of an effect on them when the time changes. So what is the best way to handle “fall back”? I suggest you “split the difference”.
Here are a couple of tips to make “falling back” a little easier.
- Wait until Sunday morning to change the clocks. Life is going to seem a lot less stressful if you don’t start your day by looking at the clock that reads an hour earlier when your little one awakes. My recommendation is to enjoy a cup of coffee and some breakfast before you start going through the house to change all of the clocks. It’s a little mind game, but it’s helpful.
- How do you split the difference?
School Age Children– If your child 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. This will be a bit of a “push”, but not enough to disrupt their bedtime routine. 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.
Toddlers– If your little one is a toddler, 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. So if your child naps at 9:30 a.m. put him down at 9:30 a.m. and so on with the rest of the day.
Infants– If you have a baby and his bedtime and naps have become predictable (usually over 6 months old) meaning he is always going to bed around the same time each day. For example 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. If their bedtime and naptimes are not predictable (0-6 months old) 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.
The good thing about “fall back” is that there are more hours of darkness, which can make it easier for our little ones to adjust. If you experience early wake-ups with your child, simply walk them back to their room and briefly explain it’s not time to wake up. Having a clock in the room can help older toddlers and preschoolers know when they can get up. If you have a child that’s still in a crib, help them adjust to the time change by keeping them in their crib in a dark room until it’s their regular wake-up time.
Remember, it takes children longer to adjust to a time change than adults. Most will adjust in about a week, but some might take as long as a month. Be patient and consistent and they will adjust with your help.