Help your child with an easy way to adjust to day-light savings
2022 Us and Canada - November 6th and UK - October 30th
What to do when the clock falls back.
You may be wondering when “the powers that be” are going to rid us of what feels like constant time changes. Just when things are going well and you are making progress around sleep… BAM… Clock change! I feel like no one feels the time change more than the parents of a young child. Their bodies don’t adjust well to huge shifts in time fluctuations and the younger they are the larger an hour is to the percentage of their awake time. Most data suggests that removing the time shifts could actually reduce heart-related incidents in adults as well as fatal vehicle accidents, not to mention save the sanity of all the families with babies and toddlers. However, until that day comes the team here at Live and Rest Coaching wants to arm you with what you can do to minimize the effects.
In the Fall season each year we “fall back” the clocks. Meaning we get an additional hour. And that may seem like an amazing thing. As an adult, if you played it right (which most usually don’t) you can catch up with an extra hour of sleep! But… for a child or baby, this means they have to extend the amount of time they are awake, which leads to being overtired, which leads to more wake-ups at night and then an early rising the next morning. Thus perpetuating a sleep exhaustion cycle that leads to crankiness and more night wakings. If you have experienced this, it can be awful.
Children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning. So the smallest change can have a more dramatic effect on children. And let’s be honest a baby doesn’t know the difference between 6 am and 3 am.
So what can we do?
First - Leave the clocks alone Saturday night!
Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
Second - Let’s split the difference.
Meaning that let’s find the middle point between the old time and the new time.
What would that look like?
School Age Children- If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00 p.m., you would put them to bed at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. Do this for 3 nights, putting them to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal, then on the 4th night put them to bed at the normal time, 7:00 p.m. or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
|Day||Original Bedtime||New Bedtime|
|Saturday||7 pm||7 pm|
|Sunday - Tuesday||7 pm||6:30 pm|
|Wednesday||7 pm||7 pm|
Toddlers- If you have toddlers ages one and older, on Sunday the first day of the time change, you would put them down for their first nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if he naps usually at 12:30 p.m. put him down at 12:00 pm. If you haven't made the transition to one nap day move each nap up 30 minutes. For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00 p.m., you would put him down at 6:30 p.m. Do this for 3 nights after the time change, and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00 p.m. and on the 5th-day move naptimes back to normal time.
|Day||Original Naptime||New Naptime||Original Bedtime||New Bedtime|
|Saturday||12:30 pm||12:30 pm||7 pm||7 pm|
|Sunday - Tuesday||12:30 pm||12:00 pm||7 pm||6:30 pm|
|Wednesday||12:30 pm||12:00 pm||7 pm||7 pm|
|Thursday||12:30 pm||12:30 pm||7 pm||7 pm|
Infants- If you have a baby (under a year old) and their bedtime and naps have become predictable (usually over 6 months old) meaning they always go to bed around the same time each day. For example, if bedtime is normally 7:00 p.m. move bedtime 15 minutes later each night until you reach the normal time again. So the first night you would put him down at 6:15 p.m., the second night 6:30 p.m., and so on. On the fourth night you should be back to 7:00 p.m. Do the same thing for naps. Start 45 minutes earlier than normal and move them 15 minutes later each day. So if morning nap is at 9:00 a.m. normally, start with 8:15 a.m. on Sunday, 8:30 a.m. on Monday, 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday and then 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Do the same for the afternoon nap.
|Day||Original First Naptime||New First Naptime||Each additional nap||Original Bedtime||New Bedtime|
|Saturday||9:00 am||9:00 am||original||7 pm||7 pm|
|Sunday||9:00 am||8:15 am||45 mins earlier||7 pm||6:15 pm|
|Monday||9:00 am||8:30 am||30 mins earlier||7 pm||6:30 pm|
|Tuesday||9:00 am||8:45 am||15 mins earlier||7 pm||6:45 pm|
|Wednesday||9:00 am||9:00 am||original||7 pm||7 pm|
If their bedtime and naptimes are not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone and use their wake time window (awake time between sleep periods) as your guide.
A great thing about this time change is that there are more hours of darkness which helps make this transition a little easier. If your child wakes up too early, walk them back to their room and tell them it’s not time to get up yet. If your child wakes up too early and is in a crib, be sure to help his body understand it isn’t morning time by keeping him in his crib in the dark room until normal wake time.
Note for Toddlers/School-aged children: If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock to know when their “morning time” has arrived, set the clock one half hour ahead of the new time so that it reads 7:00 a.m. at the new time of 6:30 a.m. Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 according to the clock but it will be 6:30 a.m., new time). This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 a.m. time after about a week or so.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially they might seem tired earlier. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, some children it can take up to a month. Be patient and stay very consistent, it will happen.
Good Luck and Sleep Well!!
If you are still struggling to get your babies and toddlers to sleep through the night reach out!