Updated: Feb 2
Does Daylight Saving Time stress you out? Honestly, it really doesn’t bother me. That may be because my kids adjust to the time change relatively easily. No judgment if it stresses you out, especially if your kiddo is super sensitive to any adjustments to their bedtime or wake up routine.
Falling-back is definitely better than springing-ahead, IMO. The short dark days are pretty lame (and seasonal-affect-disorder-inducing), but it's not awful for adjusting sleep. Falling-back is easier for kiddo's that are decent sleepers and actually lends a good opportunity to fix some sleep challenges for those kiddos who aren't.
Check out my suggestions for adjusting to Daylight Saving Time based on what type of sleeper your child is.
Good Sleeper or Sensitive to Time Change
Making gradual changes is the most common way to adjust to Daylight Saving Time and works best for most children, even those who are sensitive to any changes with their sleep.
Move your kiddo's bedtime (and nap times) 15 minutes later every 1-3 days for the next 4-12 days. If your child typically goes to bed at 8PM, and it now feels like 8PM when it is really 7PM with the time change, bedtime will be at 715PM initially. Confusing enough?
You can take it slower if your kiddo is more sensitive to the timing of his or her sleep, or a little faster if your kiddo is not as affected by the exact time he or she goes to sleep.
For younger kiddos, it is best to make the change gradually so your little one doesn't get too overtired the first few nights, leading to a restless night and early morning waking (no one wants that!).
In my house, the dark mornings help my kids to sleep in a little later and get in sync with the new time schedule a little quicker. Probably the only positive of so much darkness.
Late Bedtime, Need More Sleep, or Late AM Waker
My favorite part of Daylight Saving Time in the Fall... fixing sleep problems with the time change! There are three types of sleepers who DST actually benefits!
Do you have a child who has too late of a bedtime? A kiddo who needs an hour of more sleep at night? Or one who gets enough sleep, but can't make the bus because he sleeps too late in the morning? If so, you are in luck!
If your kiddo has a bedtime that is later than you would like it to be, this is a great opportunity to change that.
Check it out. If your child goes to bed at 830PM and you want him to go to bed at 730PM, put him to bed when he normally feels tired (730PM the “new” daylight saving time) and run with it.
No adjustments for either of you, and you all of a sudden have your ideal bedtime!
This will also work for the kiddo who needs a bit more sleep overnight. If your child needs an hour more of overnight sleep, research shows the best way to do this is to get them to bed earlier.
For the kiddo who just can't get up early enough in the morning to make the bus, shifting his sleep an hour earlier will give him the same amount of sleep, plus a little more time to get ready in the morning.
Early Morning Waker
For those kiddos who already wake up super early, Daylight Saving can be a real challenge. Before you accept 430AM (what used to be 530AM) as your new wake up time, consider these few things.
You may try (feel free to ask me first!) transitioning to a later bedtime for your little one. Lights off should be no later than 8pm for babies, toddlers, and preschool-aged kiddos.
Once you make the 1-hour gradual adjustment for the time change, go ahead and continue making his bedtime 15 minutes later until you find that sweet spot.
If your child goes to bed at 7PM, but wakes at 530AM, consider this. Make the gradual change back to 7PM bedtime. Will be 615PM, then 630PM, then 645PM, then 7PM. Once you are back on track at 7PM, continue to make bedtime 15 minutes later. Move bedtime 15 minutes later every 3-4 days. You want to do this gradually so you can give your kiddo's body time to adjust, and so you can see how it affects his sleep. It may take a few days to adjust to each new time change so give it time before calling it quits.
Keep in mind that whether you are adjusting just 1-hour for the time change or 2-hours with the goal of a later AM wake-up, it can take some time for him or her to get adjust.
Give it a few weeks for him to get settled into his new arrangements.
As frustrating as those early morning calls are the first week or so, it's not your little one's fault that the time is changing. Its not yours either. It just is what it is. It's okay to be frustrated about the challenges you may have for the next few weeks, but remember that your kiddo didn't ask for this change. So be patient with him or her.
For example, if you were planning to make bedtime 15 min later, but your sweet little babe is struggling to keep his eyes open, then go ahead and put him to bed at what would have been his normal time and try again tomorrow.
If your kids are up at 5AM instead of their normal 6AM because of the time change, you consider slowly changing your internal clock as well. Sticking to the adjustment schedule you put your kids on will help you get the rest you need to combat those early mornings. For example, if you are moving your kiddos bed time up by 15 min every other day, do the same for yourself.
Katie Ramirez, RN, BSN, CLC
Born Happy, Owner and Coach
Katie Ramirez is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and Coach for parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. She has spent more than a decade serving patients at major university hospitals such as Vanderbilt University and Penn State University Medical Centers. Katie now spends her time supporting and empowering parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers as owner and coach for Born Happy.
Katie is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Roberto (age 7), and Veronica (age 5). She has a passion for health, wellness, and happy children, and believes that, with the necessary knowledge and support, all parents can live happy.
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