Time Change and Babies/Toddlers: How to help your little one adjust
With the time change approaching, I have received many e-mails and phone calls from parents asking how they can help their babies, and toddlers transition to the new time without upsetting their child’s sleep.
Starting on the time change date, clocks will be set back one hour for daylight savings time. Often called “fall back,” we can count on sunset starting at approximately 5pm and sunrise starting at approximately 6am.
You can help your baby/toddler by starting to adjust their internal clocks/circadian rhythms ahead of the time change on Sunday. Starting a week before the time change, begin to put baby down 10 minutes later for bed. You can do this by comforting, singing or book reading, and/or starting the bedtime ritual/routine 10 minutes later. Do this for the rest of the week, so when the time change does happen, your baby will have slowly adjusted to the new time.
If your baby/toddler’s bedtime is 7pm, it will look like this:
- Tues 7:10pm bedtime
- Wed. 7:20pm bedtime
- Thurs. 7:30pm bedtime
- Fri. 7:40pm bedtime
- Sat. 7:50pm bedtime
- Sun. 7pm bedtime (new time- old time will be 8pm)
You may notice that your baby/toddler may start yawning at 5 or 6pm. Alternatively, you may notice that your baby is waking up earlier, at 6am or earlier. You can take the time to darken up your baby/toddler’s room with darkening drapes, or shades, to help them to sleep a little later.
Also, you can take this time to make some schedule/routine adjustments, for example if your baby is a “night owl,” you may decide to keep their bedtime the same without using the 10-minute times adjustment. So, if your baby goes to bed at 9pm, their new bedtime will be 8pm. Do be sure to darken your baby’s room to reduce morning light.
It takes about a week for baby/toddler to adjust to the new time. Your little one may be a bit cranky, or seem more tired then usual. Stick to your routine, and keep the daytime naps the same time.
Dr. Angelique Millette
Family Sleep Consultant, Parent Educator, and creator of The Millette Method™