I wish November 3rd, 2019 was a day that would mean wonderful things, such as fluffy puppies, brown paper packages tied up with strings on my doorstep, or an hour (or two!) of zero interruptions. But alas. It’s one the two days of the year that strikes fear in the heart of many parents who have young children. On that day, Daylight Saving Time (DST) will commence, and with it, the times will be changing. But no need to worry – it doesn’t need to wreak havoc on your child’s sleep! With some planning and small adjustments, we can get your little one (and you!) through the time change and come out just fine. There are several thoughts and strategies on how to best adjust for DST, a popular one being that you start adjusting your child’s schedule before moving the clock back. Or there’s the strategy that means you adjust your child after the time change. I personally find that the latter works better for more families, so we’ll go over how to adapt your child’s schedule AFTER the clocks turn back the hour.
As a special treat, there will be graphics included at the bottom for you to screenshot a sample schedule of how to adjust your child’s schedule for DST for easy referral!
Getting Started: When to Change My Clock?
It is tempting to change your clock before you go to bed, so you can bask in the idea that we gained an extra hour of sleep, like magic! (On a personal note, I'm totally in this camp!) However, Sleeping Littles will be that niggling voice in your head and suggest that you DON’T change the clock before falling asleep. My main reason for this is so that you don’t feel your inner self dying when you see your child waking up an hour earlier, even though biologically, they are waking up at their “normal time”. If you have a smart clock that changes time automatically for you, just turn the face away from you. Don’t let that "smart" tech toy with your emotions!
When you wake up on Sunday, go ahead and start your day as you normally do. Snuggle with the babies in bed, have your cup of coffee, read the Sunday paper, start the food for the football game and so on. This likely means that you will be doing all of this an hour earlier according to the clock, but your body will feel as though it’s moving along in it’s normal schedule. Having a more relaxed mentality in approaching the time change can make a world of difference, as cliche as it sounds. Take my word on this. When you’re ready, go around and change your clocks.
WHAT ABOUT NAPTIME?
For the first three days, you would adjust naps by 30 minutes. For example, if your baby’s morning nap is usually around 9:30 AM, you would put her down at 9:00 AM. This will be a slight push for her, since it will feel like 10 AM, but it’s not such a dramatic adjustment that it’ll set your whole day back. You would do the same with her afternoon nap.
NAP 1- 9:30 AM – change to 9 AM (feels like 10 AM)
NAP 2- 2:00PM – change to 1:30 PM (feels like 2:30 PM)
EXCEPTION: If your baby is young enough where you are mostly following awake windows, and not a set nap schedule, you would remain following their awake windows and move bedtime up a bit earlier each night over the course of 3-4 days and then move them to their normal bedtime.
ARE BEDTIMES DOOMED?
In a word: Absolutely not! (Okay, that was two words). If bedtime for your sweetheart is normally at 7:00 PM, my recommendation is to put him to bed at 6:30 PM for the first three days (Sunday-Monday-Tuesday). To him, it will feel like 7:30pm. Make sure to have a huge emphasis for quiet, relaxing activities those three nights before starting their bedtime routine, as we know that our littles can get wound up easily when tiredness creeps in.
BEDTIME- 7:00 PM – change to 6:30PM (feels like 7:30PM)
For most adults and children, it will take about a week before everyone feels adjusted and caught up to the new time. To keep things more sane in your home, making the adjustments for the first three days is a huge help. On Day 4, you can move to the new time and handle the change relatively easy. But remember, everyone is different, and some kids, for example, school aged kids can handle the time change with little issue. You know your child best, so make the decision that makes the most sense for your family.
TOOLS FOR YOUR SLEEP TOOLBOX (TODDLER/PRESCHOOL/SCHOOL AGED EDITION)
If your little one is using a clock in their room, like the OK to Wake clock that changes colors as an example, or they use the alarm bell function to alert when it’s okay for them to get up for the day, you can use that to help gently manipulate their body clocks and help them buy into the subtle changes in their schedule a bit easier. Set their clock forward half an hour during the adjustment week and let them get up a little earlier as their body gets used 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.
Normal wake up – 7:00 AM – now it’s 6:00 AM
Monday morning - clock goes off at 6:30 AM
Thursday morning - clock goes off at 7:00 AM
WEDNESDAY (DAY 4)
On the fourth night of the week, which will be Wednesday, your child's body should be quite used the new change. Get them back on their usual 7 PM bedtime and move naps accordingly. And then treat yourself and celebrate - you got through this!! WHOO HOO!
SELF CARE FOR PARENTS
Parents, this is for you: Push your bedtime a little early during the first three nights of the week, given you'll be waking up early as well with your babies while they adjust and still have to uphold your daily responsibilities such as going to work, taking care of the home, and parenting the littles. Statistics show that car accidents and medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, spike around the time change, so make your rest a priority and get some sleep too!
For an easy referral to save in your phone, scroll below to get some screenshots to help you stay on track that week!
Your Pediatric and Adult Sleep Consultant
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.