Some of the most popular questions I get asked this time of year are: “How do I get my child to transition to the new time?” “How long will it take for my baby to adjust to the time change?” “Should I help my child adjust gradually? Should I just wait until the time changes to adjust?” These are great questions to consider. The answer depends on your individual preference and the temperament of your child.
There are a few strategies when dealing with sleep and Daylight Saving. You can gradually adjust a whole week before, a few days before, the weekend of the time change, or just wait until the day of the time change. If you follow these simple steps, your little ones will have a seamless transition.
If you have recently done any type of sleep training with your child, or you are in the process of sleep training your child, you will want to do the Long Transition method to ease them into the new time.
If you have a baby that is 6 months old or younger (or they are on a 2-nap schedule), simply follow their awake windows. I have a free downloadable PDF on my website if you need a reference point. AWAKE WINDOW CHART. Transitioning to the new time can be easier at this age as you will be paying attention to the awake windows throughout the day and for bedtime.
As babies grow and start taking 1-2 naps consistently, you will need to adjust their naps and bedtime according to the schedule that you choose. Since every child is unique, we will use a general example of 7 a.m. wake-up and 7 p.m. bedtime. Adjust the schedule as needed according to your child.
One week before Daylight Saving, you will need to start this transition so that when the time does change, it will not be such a shock to your child. Rather than struggling for several days after the time change if, you are proactive, by the time that Daylight Saving does come, your child will be settled into the new schedule.
I recommend the long transition method if you have just done sleep training or you are in the process of sleep training. This will help ease the transition to the new schedule since you and your child have worked so hard during the sleep training process.
The first thing that you will want to do is start the bedtime routine 10 minutes later each night so that by night 6 your child will be ready for the time change. By the end of the week, your child will have already adjusted to the time change. Do yourself a favor and follow suit with your child (although chances are you won’t do this and neither will I…lol)
Baby Steps to an easier transition to Daylight Saving
Bedtime 7 pm (adjust according to your child): You will use 10-minute increments daily
Monday night put your child down at 7:10
Tuesday night put your child down at 7:20
Wednesday night put your child down at 7:30
Thursday night put your child down at 7:40
Friday night put your child down at 7:50
Saturday night put your child down at 8:00
Sunday night put your child down at 7:00 pm (new time!)
TO MANY STEPS?
Follow these 3 transitions every other day: Bedtime 7 pm (adjust according to your child): You will use 15-minute increments every other day
Monday & Tuesday nights put your child down at 7:15
Wednesday & Thursday night put your child down at 7:30
Friday & Saturday nights put your child down at 7:45
Sunday night put your child down at 7:00 (new time!)
Want a quicker transition or running out of time?
Friday put your child down at 7:20
Saturday put your child down at 7:40
Sunday put your child down at 7:00 (new time!)
Do the methods above sound too complicated or dreadful? Way too many steps? Wait until the day of and eventually your little one will adjust overtime. However, know that your child will be waking up “later” for several days and the adjustment could take several days (just like it does for you). You will most likely have to put your child down earlier than usual but that is ok. He/she will adjust.
NAPS NO TRANSITION:
You will need to adjust naps by putting your child down earlier than normal. They will be more tired earlier. For example: if they traditionally nap at 10 am and 2 pm you will need to put them down at 9:30 and 1:30 and have an earlier bedtime of 6:30 until they adjust after a few days.
- Be mindful of your child’s circadian rhythm during this time. I suggest that you go outside with your child within the first few hours of the morning and again as the sun goes down. This helps signal their body that it is time to wake up or go to sleep as it resets their circadian rhythm.
- If you are thinking about potty training, dropping a nap, or doing anything that might disrupt your schedule further, I recommend that you wait a few weeks after the time change. Too much disruption in their sleep could backfire.
- If your child is waking up earlier than normal, have them stay in their room/crib/bed until the desired time (if possible). You don’t want them crying but try to let them stay in the crib/bed if possible to match the desired wake-up time.
- As mentioned earlier for the long transition, I highly recommend the Long Transition method if you have just done sleep training or you are in the process of sleep training your child. This will help ease the transition to the new schedule since you and your child have worked so hard.
- If you don’t already have blackout blinds or shades I recommend this for early morning wake-ups as the sun will be more prominent in the morning.
- Relax and breathe! Don’t stress out during this time. Your child’s schedule will eventually adjust. There might be some meltdowns (maybe for you too!) You might need to have some extra time with your child during this adjustment, but be patient. They are dealing with time change just like you are!
By Becci Binnquist, Certified Sleep Specialist and Postpartum Doula
As always, if you need any help I’m here for you. If “Falling Back” isn’t going so great, schedule a series of calls, or let’s set up a time to chat and customize a sleep plan for your baby! Schedule a call today!