Fall Back Season!
Daylight savings time change can be hard on everyone. When it comes to our little one’s it is good to approach the change with a method that works best with their personality. Some children are easy going and adapt well to change while others are the opposite and resist change. Think about what type of personality you have on your hands and try a method to suit their needs. Here are some ideas!
1. Don’t do anything. The first way is more geared towards the easy going children who adapt well to changes. These children are not thrown off by changes in nap or bed times and are not greatly affected by being overtired. No matter what is thrown at them they generally sleep well and adjust well to day to day differences in schedule. This is often children on a 1 nap schedule or older.
Continue on with how you are doing things now during the time change. For the most part a baby will wake up at the "same time" which will now be an hour earlier but you can help push this time back. One way I like to push the time a little later in the morning is by keeping your baby in their sleep environment for 15 minutes longer in the morning so that they receive the sleep stimulation.
2. Start changing your child’s schedule ahead of time. This gradual approach is better for children who do not adjust as well to change. It gives them some time to get used to the new time by tweaking their schedule a few days ahead of time. This method usually works best for children over the age of 6 months old as younger babies adjust fairly well naturally.
We would want to try pushing your child's schedule later by about 15 minutes every few days so that by the time the time change occurs they will be around 1 hour later than usual. This way when the time change occurs they are back to their normal time.
A gradual shift would look like this for a child that wakes at 7, naps at 1 and goes to bed at 7:
Day 1= Wake-up at 7:15, Nap at 1:15, bedtime at 7:15
Day 3= Wake-up at 7:30, Nap at 1:30, bedtime at 7:30
Day 5 = Wake-up at 7:45, Nap at 1:45, bedtime at 7:45
Day 7 = Wake-up at 8, Nap at 2, bedtime at 8
** Day 7 will be time change day and so the new time will actually be nap at 1 and bedtime at 7. Back to how it was before the time change!
If you are using wake times because your little one is on 2 or more naps still then just working on stretching that morning nap can help. Often times we wake our baby in the morning to allow time for all the naps they need but we could start waking them 15 minutes later every couple days to allow for the natural shift.
3. Split the difference! This strategy means you are going to move the schedule by 30 minutes (splitting the hour) so that the adjustment is only 30 minutes off following the time change. What we want to do is shift the morning wake-up by 30 minutes and then get them used to this. For example, if your baby wakes up at 6 we will want to get that morning wake up to 6:30. If they wake at 7 then we want to get that morning wake up to 7:30.
Following the time change your baby will be waking up an hour earlier than this but we will only have 30 minutes to shift back to normal wake up time. If you got your baby waking at 6:30 then after the time change this will be 5:30 and then we can work on stretching that morning wake-up back to 6 a.m.
4. My child wakes up late in the morning and goes to bed late. If you have a little one who wakes up later and goes to bed later and you were hoping to shift this earlier then the time change is perfect for you! Literally overnight you will have a sleep shift of an hour :) You can just keep everything the same. 4. My child wakes up late in the morning and goes to bed late.
For example, if your child woke at 8 and went to bed at 8 it will now be a 7-7 schedule. Lucky you!!
5. My child wakes up early! The time change is not a parents best friend if you already have an early riser on your hands. If your baby generally wakes up at 5:30 a.m. then it is now going to be 4:30 a.m. which is not fun for anyone! The good news is that early wakings (before 6 a.m.) are often a sign of sleep disruptions that can be worked on!! 5. My child wakes up early!
In this case I would try my best to use a gradual shift and push that morning wake up later. It may be harder but worth a try. Although this goes against the "shift" philosophy keep in mind that a baby who is waking earlier than 6 a.m. is often going to bed too late which is causing the earlier than ideal morning wake-up!
Extra notes to get you through the time change:
- Remember that light levels are what controls our sleep hormones! Light tells our body to be awake and darkness tells our body to be asleep. Use this when shifting your sleep cycles. Keep your baby in the dark sleep environment longer in the morning if trying to shift the morning wake up later but keep them exposed to some brighter lights later into the night if you are working on shifting their bedtime a little later.
- We want to shift the times on the clock but keep in mind that your baby's "clock" are the cues in their routines. We can tell time on the clock but your baby depends on the stimulation and cues we provide for them to know what they are supposed to do. This means shift your sleep routines later as well so that everything flows together.
- Be patient. This time change is not as easy for your child to adapt to as it is for us. We gladly accept the extra hour on the clock but your baby's body is naturally "set" close to the same times each day. This means that waking up at 5 a.m. after the time change is no different than waking at 6 the morning before! There will be some tired days as the adjustments are made. It will even out but some babies take longer than others!
Good luck and Happy Fall Back!