Daylight saving time ends on Sunday, November 4th, meaning that clocks will “fall back” an hour at 2:00am on Sunday morning. That could mean that your family enjoys another hour of sleep, or that your little one’s internal clock will be waking her up earlier than the Sunday morning clock indicates.
There are different ways to help babies and kids adjust more smoothly to the time change.
JUMP RIGHT TO THE NEW TIME
You can have your child simply jump to the new time. This often works just fine for older kids. On Saturday night they can go to bed at the usual time. Let them wake naturally on Sunday morning. The clock might say 6:00am when their bodies are telling them it’s 7:00am. Put your child to bed at the time according to the clock on Sunday night and he will most likely be very tired — the clock might say 7:00pm but his body thinks it’s 8:00pm. Make sure to protect his regular bedtime during the week following the time change. Black out curtains or shades help a lot.
Another approach is to anticipate the change and help your child gradually shift to the new time. Babies tend to have a slightly harder time with the change than children, so shifting them over 4 days can help. Adjust sleep times a little later each day in anticipation.
STEPS FOR SHIFTING YOUR BABY GRADUALLY:
- Start 4 days before the time change. You will start your bedtime routine and put your baby to sleep 15 minutes later each day. It will take you 4 days to reach the one-hour mark. Adjust wake times by 15 minutes as well.
- If your baby hasn’t completely adjusted by the time daylight savings time arrives, no worries; just continue the adjustment during the next few days.
- Use the same rate of adjustment for naps, 15 minutes later each day for 4 days.
- Consider your baby’s current sleep schedule and figure out what the time change will mean. If your baby’s schedule is just where you want it, you’ll help her adjust to the new time as indicated.
- If your baby’s current schedule is off and the time change will help (for example, you want him to go to bed an hour earlier than he has been), you’re in luck. You will be able to shift your baby immediately to the new time. It will still be very important to pay attention to blocking out daylight and keeping bedtime and naptime routines consistent.
- If your baby’s schedule is off in a direction where the time change will make it even worse (for example, you want her to go to bed an hour later), adjust gradually to the new time and then continue until you’ve reached the desired bedtime.
- Remember routines and environment. Keep bedtime and naptime routines in place and predicable. All that effort and consistency will pay off now, as these cues help your baby adjust to the new time. Also make baby’s room very dark.
Adapted from The Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon, MFT and Julie Wright, MFT