Twice a year around Daylight Savings Time I find myself muttering, “fall back, spring forward,” just to make sure I’ve got my head (correctly) wrapped around the time change.
It’s “fall back” this time around, so we’re about to set our clocks back one hour. Theoretically, that means we get an extra hour of sleep!
Theoretically, yes. Realistically, no.
Realistically, we’ll be helping our little ones through the time change before we have a prayer of seeing our own bodies adapt.
When it comes to successfully navigating a time change with your infant or toddler, your approach will first depend on how adaptable they tend to be overall. Children who adapt easily will likely require less “prep time” for the change than children who are more structured overall.
Slow and Steady…
For the more structured child, consider beginning 10 – 12 days in advance of the time change. Use that time to push their schedule back by 15-minute increments, giving them one or two days in between to adjust to the changes you make.
Day 1: 6:00pm bedtime moves to 6:15pm
Day 2: Bedtime is 6:15pm
Day 3: 6:15pm bedtime moves to 6:30pm
Day 4: Bedtime is 6:30pm
Day 5: Bedtime is 6:30pm
Day 6: 6:30pm bedtime moves to 6:45pm
Day 7: Bedtime is 6:45pm
Day 8: 6:45pm bedtime moves to 7:00pm
Day 9: Bedtime is 7:00pm
Day 10: The clocks “fall back” so what was 7:00pm bedtime is now reading 6:00pm on the clock
You would, of course, adjust wake-up times and naps accordingly. So a child who usually wakes at 6:00am would be expected to wake up close to 7:00am before the time change takes place. Going by that rule, the clocks “fall back” one hour with the time change and will read 6:00am when your child wakes.
“Oh! We’re Halfway There…”
For the slightly more adaptable child, some parents may choose to “split the difference.” This means that 2-3 days before the time change, you would move a standing 6:00pm bedtime 30 minutes later to 6:30pm. By the time the clocks “fall back,” you child is theoretically going to bed at 5:30pm and waking at 5:30am – in other words halfway to where they need to be. By moving bedtime 30 minutes later, your child will ideally be going to bed at 6:00pm and waking at 6:00am within another day or two.
Keep it Simple – Stick to Your Routine
For the very adaptable child, you might have more success just sticking to your routine. Since the time change takes place in the wee hours of the morning, a 6:00pm bedtime will likely yield a 5:00am wake-up now that the clocks fell back an hour. If possible, remain consistent by letting them know that 6:00 am is the right time to wake up. Bedtime will remain at, or very close to, 6:00 pm.
Remember that following your child’s tired cues is always advisable over pushing them to stay awake longer.