3 Totally Doable Ways to Help your Little One When Daylight Savings Ends
Updated: May 18, 2022
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that whoever invented Daylight Savings time wasn’t a parent of young kids.
I totally get that there is a time and a place for it, but it sure does throw infant sleep schedules for a loop! Before I had kids, fall back was the BEST! It meant an extra hour to stay out later, sleep in, or watch an extra episode without the guilt. How can the same day go from feeling fun and free, to a total drag?
I don’t like being the one to bring down the party, but as your trusted Sleep Consultant I think I should help you get prepared for this: Fall back is a tough one.
There, I said it, and I’m sorry I have to be the one to do so! But you know I won’t leave you in a lurch here.
First though, I think a quick heart to heart is in order. No matter which method you choose, it’s important to show your littles some extra empathy during this time. I’m sure you’re feeling tired, cranky, and a little “off” during this transition, but we need to remember that our kiddos are feeling this way too! A little patience will go a long way and your whole household will likely be feeling good as new in a handful of days.
The end of Daylight Savings can be especially difficult because if your babe is already an early riser, they will be up even earlier when it changes. Yikes! But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I have 3 ways to help your baby or young child get through the time change, and keep your sanity in the process.
I’m sure there’s one in here that fits your style to help your kiddos (and you!) get their much-needed ZZZs. You ready?
3 Ways to Handle the Change
The Eager Beaver – This one goes out to all of you planner-type parents! The ones who have had this day circled on the calendar for weeks now. If your little one is younger than 6 months, I recommend bumping their schedule 15 minutes later, and increasing that time every 3 days. This means everything from the time they wake up, to bed time gets pushed 15 minutes more every 3 days. So you’ll want to start 12 days before the time change in order to adjust to that extra hour on time.
If your little one is older than 6 months, you can try bumping their schedule later by 30 minutes for 3 days (remembering to do this twice!). This way you only have to start 6 days before the time change in order to make that hour adjustment.
The “Was that today?!” – If you’re not much of a planner, or just plain forgot, don’t panic! Similar to how the Eager Beavers would make schedule adjustments, you’re just making those adjustments after Daylight Savings has ended. This means that instead of being adjusted by the day that the time change occurs, you’re starting those adjustments on the day the time change occurs. No shame in that!
The Easy Breezy – You know your child best, and if they’re the easy-going type then this is the simplest option of all 3. Starting on the day that Daylight Savings ends, adjust the clock and create their schedule accordingly with the new time. However, I only recommend it for little ones older than 6 months, as they are less prone to becoming overtired. But if this fits the bill for you, there is something simple about just biting the bullet.
But… What if it Doesn’t Work?
In a perfect world, this is where I could end it and I would know that there wouldn’t be any problems. But as an experienced RN and mama of 3, I know that even with all the planning, kids don’t always get the message about a new wake time. Sometimes it takes a little bit of extra practice to help them learn that 5:00 AM is not a suitable wake up time for anyone.
So what do you do? You wait.
If they were previously waking up at 7:00 AM, then you help them get back to that wake time. So if they’re now waking up at 6:00 AM, you play the waiting game. For 3 days, don’t get them out of their crib until 6:15. They might not love it, but it’s really not that much time. After those 3 days, wait until 6:30 to get their day started. Follow this pattern until you’re back to a 7:00 AM waking.
What About My Older Kids?
If there’s some good news here, it’s that toddlers & older kiddos often adjust quickly to the time change. They are less prone to becoming overtired and respond better to change with a little notice. If they have an “Okay to wake” clock, or a system where they know not to come out of their room beforehand, now is its time to shine. If you don’t have one and you’re finding your child is constantly getting out of bed or leaving their room too early, this is a great time to make that purchase.
Pro Tip: If they’re getting up at 6:00 (instead of that glorious 7:00!), start by setting their clock to 6:30 for a few days, and then adjust it to 7:00 to get back to their typical schedule.
It’s no secret that Daylight Savings can be a real doozy for families of little ones. But believe me when I tell you that if you stick to one of these methods consistently then you will come out the other side with your sanity still within reach.
If sleeping soundly seems like a far off dream, know that I’m here for you. I offer expert support options that fit all sorts of price points and sleep needs. Helping your wee one get their sleep doesn’t have to be intimidating. The first step is to book a free, no pressure call to chat about your baby’s specific sleep struggles. And don’t worry, I’ll be with you every step of the way!