Most parents don’t mind the daylight savings change in the fall when they gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they hear they are going to have to lose an hour of sleep! Here is a short and sweet guide on handling change in time and how to tackle your children’s sleep.
My 1st solution is to “split the difference.”
For “Fall Back,” my recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7 p.m. I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30p.m. for the first three days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits. Do the same adjustment for naps.
If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time.
If you are dealing with a baby however, you cannot do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6 a.m. is okay now. So if she normally wakes at 7:00, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait ten minutes the first day, and then twenty the next, then 6:30 the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.
My 2nd solution is a more gradual adjustment.
During the week before the time shift, adjust your baby’s entire schedule by 10-15 minutes each day. Wake your baby 10-15 minutes earlier than normal in the morning, (I know it’s hard!) Put them down 10-15 minutes earlier at each nap and 10-15 minutes earlier at bedtime. Within 4-6 days, you have your exact schedule intact. Of course, always watch sleepy cues.
Give it time and know that with consistency your baby will get back on schedule within a week, possibly two.