I love any opportunity to cut the clutter. When it comes to Daylight Savings Time, it’s no different. I typically advise families to jump right in, switch to the “new” time, and make any necessary – and often very minor – adjustments after the switch.
That said, not every family has the luxury of going with the flow. In many cases, even a brief snag in schedules can, quite literally, bring down the house.
Understanding that each child and family has unique needs, this post outlines two options for navigating Daylight Savings Time adjustments. There are certainly many other ways to approach time change adjustments, but I’m confident this will provide most families with a solid start.
Keep it Simple – Stick to Your Routine
Since the time change occurs in the wee hours of the morning, this option allows you to put your child to bed at their usual bedtime on Saturday night and carry on with your normal routine as soon as they wake Sunday morning. As usual, your child’s day should not start before 6:00 a.m. Let’s see how that plays out.
In Spring, a child who typically goes to bed at 6:00 p.m. and wakes at 6:00 a.m. will now wake at 7:00 a.m. Going by the clock, naps may occur slightly later than usual, so consider keeping a close eye on your child’s sleep cues throughout the day. Bedtime will remain at, or very close to, 6:00 p.m.
In Fall, a child who typically goes to bed at 6:00 p.m. and wakes at 6:00 a.m. will likely wake at 5:00 a.m. after the time change. If possible, remain consistent by letting them know that 6:00 a.m. is the right time to wake up. Bedtime will remain at, or very close to, 6:00 p.m.
Split the Difference
This approach requires a bit more attention to the clock overall, but works well for parents who have concerns about quickly shifting their child’s schedule. With this option, you shift the schedule by 30 minutes.
In Spring, a child who typically wakes at 6:00 a.m. will now wake at 7:00 a.m., based on the clocks springing forward. To help maintain consistency in your schedule, you should plan to wake your child at 6:30 a.m., splitting the difference between the old and new wake-up times. If you’re strictly following the clock, naps and meals should be adjusted by 30 minutes. Bedtime will also be adjusted, so a child who was going to be at 6:00 p.m. will now go to bed at 6:30 p.m.
If your child does well with the adjusted bedtime, you have the option to keep it. However, many parents choose to slide bedtime back to the original time (6:00 p.m.) after 2-3 days.
During time changes – especially during Fall when we add an hour of sleep – parents of infants should be mindful of their child’s nutritional needs. Expecting an infant to stretch an extra hour because of a time change isn’t always reasonable. Responding between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. for a few days is fine, but many parents will try to stretch their child’s wake-up time by 15-minute increments over the course of one week, quickly aiming to make a habit of no wake-ups before 6:00 a.m.
Typically, children will adapt to small time change adjustments – like Daylight Savings Time – within one week. Of course, Sleep Pea can always help you make the necessary adjustments if you’re running into hurdles!