‘Fall Back’ Time Change and My Child’s Sleep

On November 7th, Daylight Saving ends in the majority of the United States and Canada. Remember the times when the biggest issue with the time change was making sure you switched your clocks? Parenthood brings a whole other level to this doesn’t it?

Like many parents, you might be concerned about what the time change means for your little one. So let’s talk about it.

What does the time change entail?

On Saturday night, the clocks will ‘fall back’ one hour. That means that 1AM will now become 12AM. For childless adults this is cause for celebration as you ‘gain’ one hour. But those of us with little kids know that our little ones do not care about our schedules.

How can this affect my household?

The trickiest thing about this change is the potential of having really early wakes. If your child is already waking up at 6AM, for example, they will now be waking at 5AM. If you have been struggling with late bedtimes, however, this is a perfect way to move bedtime earlier without trouble.

Option one: do nothing

This is generally the option we take in our household as we are able to be flexible with my son’s schedule since we both work from home. If you gotta get to work/daycare in the morning this might not work.

With this option, you just adjust the bedtime the day of the time change and follow your child’s cues. You are trusting sleep will sort itself out and/or making peace with a different schedule in the winter season than the summer season.

I also recommend this approach for little babies, especially under 6 months. Until 6 months, your baby’s circadian rhythm isn’t fully established so it is easier to change patterns (that’s if they have a pattern to begin with).

Option 2: Slow Approach.

This approach is going to be helpful for older toddlers/children who have established schedules. It will also be helpful for little ones who are naturally more set in their routines (some babies have high rhythmicity while others are a little more unpredictable).

What you want to do is move bedtime later by an hour. For example, if your little one usually goes to bed at 7PM, you want to work towards an 8PM bedtime so that when the time changes it becomes 7PM again.

You can take this change as slow or quickly as needed depending on your child’s temperament. Below is an example of how this might look with a slow approach:

You can adjust this approach based on your child’s needs. For example, you might switch bedtime by 15m every day instead of every 3 days. Or you might do a whole week instead.

Use light to your advantage.

Anytime you are adjusting your little one’s schedule, use light to help you. This means using sunlight/darkness to help manipulate their circadian rhythm.

1- One to two hours before bedtime, draw the curtains and dim the lights. Turn off screens and if possible, use a red light bulb or candles for lighting. This helps your child know it’s getting close to bedtime.

2- Use blackout or dark curtains at night. Darkness triggers our body to produce melatonin so it’s helpful to go to sleep in a dark room.

3- Keep the room dark until desired wake time. If your little one wakes really early- say 5AM- don’t ignore them! Get up with them and go about your routine but try keeping the lights dim and things generally quiet.

4- Expose your child to lots of sunlight during the day. In fact, I recommend napping in the light as well. This helps your child understand the difference between day and night. Not to mention the amazing benefits of getting their daily dose of vitamin D.

That’s all for today’s post! If you found this helpful, share with a friend that might need it! If you’re struggling with your little one’s sleep, reach our for a 1:1 consult! Click here to book your free 15m discovery call (no strings attached!).

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