It’s that time of year again. The end of Daylight Saving.
It’s also the time for a really early wake up if you have children and if you don’t then you technically get an extra hour of sleep. For those of you reading this, I assume you fall in the former category and I’m right there with you mama!
This Sunday morning will come early, an hour early to be exact. That’s right, if your child normally wakes at 6:00 AM then come Sunday it’s likely your wake up call will be at 5:00AM.
But don’t worry. The time change does not have to throw your child’s sleep off for too long. It affects us all and takes about a week or a little more for our internal clocks to adjust.
Without adjusting your schedule to the time change you could be putting your child to bed at what feels like an hour later than usual. Which we know could lead to over tiredness and earlier morning wakings. No thanks, right?
By gently shifting your little one’s schedule you will help them stay on track with sleep and not get totally thrown off. I have two options and a few simple steps to follow that will help you successfully adjust to this odd, no fun, so called “holiday” and keep your child’s sleep on track.
Option #1: Adjust ahead of time
Starting a week ahead begin adjusting the sleep schedule (wake time, naps and bedtime) earlier by 10-15 minutes every day or two until they are close to waking about an hour later than usual. Then when the time changes they will be on their regular schedule.
(If your baby isn’t on a set nap time schedule then option 2, adjusting after the change may be the better strategy)
Option #2: Adjust after the time change
Step 1: Do nothing
By now in this digital age all of our clocks change themselves. But I suggest when you wake up on Sunday morning, don’t stress about what the clock says. Just roll with and get your child up when they wake. Oh yea, and don’t forget your cup of coffee (or two).
Step 2: Split the Difference
Instead of forcing the time change all at once by jumping right in, I suggest splitting the difference in time. This way your child won’t feel like they are going down for nap(s) and bedtime an hour later than usual.
For example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30, you will adjust this to 9:00 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 too much disruption to her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap.
Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7 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 to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everyone’s body roughly one week to adjust to any kind of change in sleeping habits.
Step 3: Shift Morning wake up (gradually)
If you have a toddler…
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 they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 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 wakeup time.
If you have a toddler clock like the Hatch this will be even easier for you as you can adjust the gradual wake up time from your phone.
If you have a baby…
When they wake early on Sunday do not rush in as soon as you hear her waking up. So if she normally wakes at 7:00, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait 10 minutes before getting her up the first day, and then 20 minutes on day two, then 30 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 4 as well.
No matter which option you decide is best for your little one there are a few things to remember to help you stay the course.
Use light and darkness to your advantage! You can help your baby or toddler (and yourself) acclimate to the time change by getting outside during their wake periods and making it nice and dark for sleep times and close to bedtime.
With it getting darker sooner that means the sun will start to rise earlier as well. As always, blackout shades are a MUST for your infant or toddler’s room. (If you don’t have any I’ve linked a great option)
Just because the time is shifting does not mean it’s a good time to throw your routine out the window. Stick to your usual bedtime and nap routines to maintain normalcy for your little one so they can understand when sleep is coming and send that important signal to the brain that its night night time!
It takes time to adjust to the change of time so just give yourself a break and practice patience. Knowing things might be off for a week or so can hopefully give you some relief to know that this isn’t permanent and your baby will be back on track soon enough.
Remember, the time change adjustment is about shifting your child’s circadian rhythm. Infant and Toddler sleep is complex and if your child currently struggles with early wakes, night waking, and/or naps help is available! No matter your baby’s age we have resources available to help you.