For most parents, the end of Daylight Savings Time is just as frightening as the holiday that falls right before it! Don’t be spooked! If you have a game plan in place before the time change happens, you will help make this a seamless transition for both you and your child(ren).
We will soon be moving our clocks back one hour, which means you are probably wondering how you can take advantage of that extra glorious hour of sleep. Right?! Here are a few options to help you prepare:
Option 1 – Slowly start to prep your child(ren) a few days in advance. Push everything back by 15 minutes a week or so before the time change. After two days of that, push everything back by another 15 minutes, etc. until you match up with a later bedtime the night the time change is set to take place. For example, if their normal bedtime is 7pm, move it to 7:15pm the Sunday before the time changes. On Tuesday night, push it to 7:30pm. On Thursday night, make it 7:45pm. On Saturday night, you’d put them down at 8:00pm, and they will wake with the amount of sleep they typically get!
Option 2 – This is my personal favorite and what I do with my children: prep the night of the time change. I usually start around dinner time. I will give my children their dinner about one hour later than they typically have it. Bath time also gets pushed back one hour later than normal. This leads us to…you guessed it…bedtime one hour later than usual. The reason I start with dinner and not just a later bedtime is so their bodies feel that they are still on schedule, but I’ve thrown a slight wrench in by altering the times. This way, when they wake the next morning, their bodies are getting the same amount of sleep they are used to getting.
Option 3 – Go cold turkey with it! I know this sounds like you might be living on the edge, but this works for some people. Put them to bed at their normal wake time, try to keep them in their crib/bed until as close to their set wake time as possible (even with the time change) and move forward from there. For babies who are on a strict feeding schedule, try to hold off on starting their day and giving them their first feeding until the set time according to the time change. It will take a few days for your child to fully adjust, but know that with your consistency, they will get back on track!
Tip for older children – For those of you who use an OK to Wake Clock or something similar, don’t forget to change the time on the clock the night before! You do not want your child waking one hour earlier the next morning because we forgot to change it!
Early Risers – We know these little ones well, don’t we?! The day we all used to look forward to pre-children (who didn’t love that extra hour of sleep?!) is now the day we dread most for those of us with chipper early morning risers. If you feel you can’t keep your child in their sleep space for one whole extra hour, move slowly with the change. Just as Option 1 above suggests, do the same thing with their morning wake ups. Push them in 15 minute increments every few days before taking them out of their sleep space and getting their day started.
Naps – Naps are difficult for some babies and children who are not quick to pick up on the time change memo. If your baby or child is not adjusting to their normal routine the day after the time change, keep reading. For babies who are still taking more than two naps per day, keep their stretches of wake times the same as you adjust to the new time. If your child typically naps on a consistent, clock-based schedule, aim to get them down for their nap 30 minutes before their normal nap time (first nap at 8:30am versus 9:00am and second nap at 12:30pm rather than 1:00pm). From there, slowly stretch these times by 15 minutes every two days or so until you get back to their usual scheduled nap times. If your baby or child seems to be adjusting well to the time on the clock, you can skip these steps and continue to place them down at their normal scheduled nap times.
At the end of the day, no matter which option you choose, the key is consistency (as is everything sleep related!). Give your child time to adjust to the changes and expect to have them back on track within a week or so.