How to Help Your Child Adjust with the Time Change (End of Daylight Saving Time)

October 22, 2019


The end to Daylight Saving Time is approaching! This means we fall back an hour on the clock, "gaining" an hour of sleep from Saturday, November 2nd to Sunday, November 3rd. For example, what is now 6:30AM will become 5:30AM.


And this can be great for an adult! We think, "Ahhh! An extra hour to sleep!" BUT your young children might not catch on. Instead, they will most likely wake after sleeping for their usual duration of sleep, causing them to be up an hour earlier on the clock.


You might be tempted to have your child stay up late for bedtime on Saturday in order to compensate for the time change, hoping it helps with sleeping in to an appropriate time. However, this plan could easily backfire. Going to bed later than when your child's biological clock is asking him to do so can often produce frequent night wakings and an earlier rising!


For older children, it might not matter much. They can adjust pretty well, especially if already a well-rested child. However, younger children or children who are overtired have a harder time adjusting to schedule changes. Here are some guidelines for how to help your child adjust to this change.


Perhaps your child has been waking later in the morning and you actually need him to wake earlier. (I know. I know. A lot of you are laughing or glaring at this statement. That is if your eyes aren't rolling in the back of your head.) Well, if this is your child, then falling back in time can be used to your advantage. Don't make any changes leading up to that Sunday. Instead, your child's entire schedule will shift an hour back starting on that Sunday.


You will need to shift nap time, bedtime, and meals. This will help you keep a similar schedule but just earlier into the day. Keep in mind that your child's duration of wake time and sleep time won't change. He will still have the same highs and lows in his circadian rhythm. The only difference will be what time the clock reads.


BUT, if you need/want to keep your child on the same schedule once the time changes, you can help your child gradually adjust to this schedule in a couple of ways.


Option 1: The week leading up to the end of Daylight Saving Time, gradually move your child's ENTIRE schedule forward 10-15 minutes every day. Again, this includes wake time, naps, bedtime, and meals. Once you get to Sunday, the clock will have changed and you will be back on your regular schedule. The chart below is an example of this for a 5-9 month old who wakes at 6:30AM every day. Use this same concept but with your child's current schedule.



Option 2: Start to gradually move your child's ENTIRE schedule 10-15 minutes per day starting Friday morning with the wake time. Once you reach Sunday, you will be halfway through the adjustment. Finish the adjustment after the time change. For example, your child usually wakes at 6:30AM. Get her out of bed at 6:45AM the Friday prior and shift her entire schedule forward 15 minutes. Get her out of bed at 7:00AM on Saturday, shifting her entire schedule forward 15 minutes. Wake her at the new time of 6:15AM on Sunday (which would be 7:15 AM), shifting her entire schedule forward 15 minutes. By Monday, wake her by 6:30AM which would mean you are back to the original wake time and schedule.



Note, if your child is already having difficulties sleeping or doesn't adjust well to change, regardless of which option you use, you will want to make the adjustment more gradual. Meaning you might need to use smaller daily increments to adjust schedule, requiring more days to plan for the shift. And remember! You will need to adjust your child's ENTIRE schedule every day that you make adjustments!


If you're like, "Ha! Crazy lady! What schedules?!" Let's chat! Schedule a free 15-minute phone call with me to discuss your situation and how I can help.

Tags: sleep training, sleep coaching, coaching

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