On Sunday November 3rd, we will be setting our clocks back one hour.
“Falling back” is great because we get that extra hour of sleep. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so easy with little ones! Over the last few days, I’ve had several clients contacting me asking me the best way to handle the time change so that they can keep their children on track with the great sleep habits they’ve already developed. Although it can take up to a week for your child to fully adjust to the time change, the process is quite simple. You just have to “split the difference”. Here’s how to do it…
Don’t worry about the clocks on Saturday night
Just start with your child’s first nap on Sunday and adjust the time by 30 minutes. If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap at 9:30, you will adjust this to 9:00 am (which will FEEL like 10 am to your child) for the first 3 days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push to keep your child awake for an extra 30 minutes, but not so much that it will cause much damage to his or her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap. You may find that you need to use a lot of distraction at this time to carry your child through to the next nap time.
Gradually roll back
At bedtime, if your child usually goes to bed at 7 PM, I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 PM for the first 3 days following the time change (This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child). It will take about a week for your child’s body to adjust to the time change.
On the 4th day, you can now move in line with the new time, so your baby or child will be back to taking naps and going to bed at their usual time.
While your child is adjusting to the new time, it’s common to have early morning wake ups for the first few days. Here are some great ways to tackle those early mornings:
If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minute numerals, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. I would just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30, it reads 7:00 and I would let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that by the end of the week, they would be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time. If you are already using a Gro Clock (or something similar), you can set the clock to the exact time you would like them to get up.
If you have a baby, you will need to gently help them adjust. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6 a.m. is okay now. If your child normally wakes at 7:00am, but is now up at 6:00, wait ten minutes before getting your child up on the first day, and then twenty minutes the following day, then wait until 6:30 the third day. By the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
Above all, stay consistent
Remember that this adjustment will take time. If you stay consistent and allow your child’s body to adjust slowly, you will be back on track in about one week.