Updated: Oct 21, 2021
It’s Fall! The time when childless people get to sleep for an extra hour, and parents somehow end up sleeping less! It makes me wonder why we have to change time at all!? But I digress…
Daylight Savings (both Fall and Spring) can throw a wrench in your child’s sleep, because it impacts their circadian rhythm (internal clock!) Their circadian rhythm helps them falls asleep and wake up around the same time each day, so you can see how this could cause some sleep issues when the clocks change.
If you’re like me, you may want to be prepared for the time change and have an action plan to help your child through it. It is definitely an option to just do nothing if that’s more your style, your child will wake up an hour earlier (on the clock) and go to bed an hour earlier (on the clock). Personally, I am not into this idea because I am not a morning person and waking up an hour earlier it not something I want to do! There are 3 simple tips I’d like to share with you, that will make the adjustment much easier on your child and you!
1. Plan and adjust the schedule ahead of time!
Most babies and children will need roughly one week (two if they do not adapt to change well) to adjust to the new time. I recommend shifting your child’s daily schedule by 10-15 minutes, about 5-6 days before the clocks change. This will give your baby/child as chance to adjust to the time difference without having any big changes in their daily routine. They likely won’t even notice, and within one week they will be on track for the time change! Here is an example of a 7:00PM bedtime:
Day 1: 7:00pm
Day 2: 7:15pm
Day 3: 7:30pm
Day 4: 7:45pm
Day 5: 8:00pm
8:00pm will turn to 7:00pm at the time change, and VOILA! You schedule is back to normal! You can choose to take a few extra days and adjust by 10 minutes if you feel that would be better for your family. And if you are reading this blog after the time change, you can even make these changes post time change!
2. Be prepared to deal with some bedtime struggles!
As I mentioned, your child has a natural internal clock that needs to change. So, you may find that adjusting their bedtime and daily schedule may result in some pushback from them. They may fight you at nap time and bedtime, because their body is telling them that it isn’t time to go to sleep yet! This is why we want to adjust it slowly and little by little, so they don’t notice it as much. I recommend creating a calming environment leading up to bedtime. Dim the lights, turn off the screens and keep the activity level low. And as always, keep an eye out for their sleepy cues, because their cues of tiredness will always supersede the clock!
3. Get some blackout blinds!
Daylight savings time means that the sun may be out during their bedtime. So, while I ALWAYS recommend having blackout blinds, it is especially important during these time changes. Our circadian rhythm is impacted by the daylight, as it directly impacts the amount of melatonin our bodies produce. The more sunlight, the less melatonin, which can make it more difficult for your child to fall asleep. So be sure to get their room as dark as possible! Here are my favorite blinds. And if you don’t have the budget for new blinds right now, tin foil is always a great option!! Just wet the window surface and place your tin foil directly on the window, overlapping to ensure no light sneaks in! I recommend bringing a roll of tin foil with you while traveling, it packs small and can be a life saver if your somewhere without blackout blinds!
The clocks will change once again int he springtime, but your approach will stay the same! You just want to move in the other direction, since the clocks will move forward instead of backwards. Here is an example of what that will look like:
Day 1: 7:00pm
Day 2: 6:45pm
Day 3: 6:30pm
Day 4: 6:15pm
Day 5: 6:00pm
Thank 6:00pm becomes 7:00pm when the clocks adjust and you are back in business!!
If your baby is currently waking up early in the morning, then you can use the time change to your advantage! Don't make any changes to your babies schedule and they will automatically start sleeping in an hour later (woohoo!). So, if your babies current schedule is 6pm-6am, it will become 7pm-7am without any effort on your part!
I hope that these tips help you and your family adjust to the time change with more ease! I am here to help if you have any questions or if you would like my support through the process. I have a $40 "Ask Me Anything" package that is perfect for something like this :) Good luck!