By Maggie Moore
One of my absolute favorite things takes place in the fall - the end of Daylight Savings Time. Who doesn’t love an extra hour of sleep? Enter my son… no more extra hour of sleep. If I am being totally honest, he was barely sleeping at all during his first experience with the time change, so the confusion associated with the extra hour only made matters worse.
Truth be told, the fall time change is a little trickier than the one in spring. No need to fret though; I am going to break down the various options for handling the time change, and how to determine which is best for you. Think of it as choosing your own baby sleep adventure!
Plan A – Shifting over a few days
Is your little one a perpetual early riser? (Early is considered waking prior to 6:00 am, as a child’s natural wake time is between 6:00 am to 8:00 am.) If so, then this strategy may be the best for you. On Wednesday prior to the time change, shift your child’s schedule by putting them to bed 15 minutes later than their usual time. Do this each subsequent night, adding 15 additional minutes to their bedtime, leading up to the Saturday night/Sunday morning time change. This will allow them to gradually adjust to the hour change over a four-night period. I do not recommend shifting any more than 15 minutes a day, as we do not want your child to become overtired. Remember, little ones who are overtired have a harder time falling asleep, staying asleep and tend to fight sleep. We want to avoid the overtired state as much as possible.
Additionally, you will want to shift nap times each day leading up to the time change by making them 15 minutes later as well. I recommend shifting the middle nap(s), then the first nap and then the last nap. As with bedtime, this will allow them to gradually adjust to the hour change over a four-night period.
Plan B – Fall back all at once
If your little one is not waking early, this strategy may be the best option for you. Simply keep everything in your child’s schedule the exact same up to the evening of the time change. On Sunday following the time change, push their schedule as much as they can handle back to their “normal” routine.
If your little one is not prone to being overtired, or is not overly sensitive to schedule changes, this is a great option for you.
Plan C – Wing it!
If your little one is waking at 7:00 am or later and going to bed at 7:00 pm or later, this may be the best choice for you. Your child will wake at 6:00 am (what was 7:00 am) on the day of the time change. Stick to the same schedule and put him/her to bed at 7:00 pm that night (the equivalent of 8:00 pm).
Again, this is another great option for children who are not prone to becoming overtired.
Other tips for surviving the time change
- Remember, continue to leave your little one in their crib or bed until 6:00 am, even if they wake-up before then. Allowing them to get up earlier than 6:00 am only reinforces early wake-ups!
- Environment is key when changing time. Making sure your little one’s room is dark for sleep times, with lots of natural light during awake times, will help reset their internal clock. A short early morning walk during the week following the time change will help your little one to process the shift and aid in resolving any confusion.
Fortunately, the effects of Daylight Savings last only a few days. We don’t want to make any permanent changes to something that impacts sleep for such a short amount of time, as this may lead to regressions with sleep. Focus on keeping the same routine and schedule around waketimes and between naps. The goal is to avoid letting your little one become overtired, which can produce a number of sleep challenges.
Maggie Moore is the Founder and Head Sleeper at Moore Sleep. She is a certified pediatric sleep consultant through the Family Sleep Institute, which means her sole focus and objective is getting your baby on a healthy sleep schedule so the whole family can get the sleep they need.
Like many parents, Maggie and her husband struggled with getting their son on a healthy sleep schedule and he was unable to fall asleep independently. As a result, her family was losing precious sleep every night.
Maggie became a firm believer when, shortly after hiring a certified pediatric sleep consultant, her son began sleeping independently at bed and nap times. It was a turning point that resulted in not only restful nights, but waking up fully rested with the energy to face the day. Maggie knew right away she wanted to become a certified consultant herself so she could help other families struggling to get the sleep they need.
Maggie and her family reside in Southern Indiana (near Louisville, KY). She received her bachelors in Journalism and a second concentration in Communications & Culture from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Follow Maggie on Facebook and Instagram.