With the upcoming time change, we are getting a lot of questions about how to help little ones adjust in advance of the time change. Parents are naturally concerned that the time change can lead to an early waking sleep issue for their little one. We have come up with a few tried and true strategies to help advance your child’s circadian rhythm ahead of the time change.
This fall, clocks will be set back one hour for the end of daylight saving time. Often called “fall back,” we can count on sunset starting at approximately 5 pm and sunrise starting at approximately 6 am.
Starting Tuesday night, October 29, begin putting your child 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, and when the time change does happen, your child will have slowly adjusted to the new time.
If your child’s bedtime is 7:00 pm, the daily adjustments will look like this:
- Tuesday, 7:10 pm bedtime
- Wednesday, 7:20 pm bedtime
- Thursday, 7:30 pm bedtime
- Friday, 7:40 pm bedtime
- Saturday, 7:50 pm bedtime
- Sunday, 7:00 pm bedtime (new time, old time will be 8 pm)
You may notice that your child may start yawning at 5 or 6 pm. Alternatively, you may notice that your child is waking up earlier, at 6 am or earlier. You can take the time to darken up your little one’s room with darkening drapes, or shades, to help them to sleep a little later. You can also 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 time adjustment. If your baby goes to bed at 9 pm, their new bedtime post-time change will be 8 pm. Be sure to darken your baby’s room to reduce morning light.
It takes about a week for a baby/toddler to adjust to the new time. Your little one may be a bit cranky, or seem more tired than 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™