How to Make Daylight Savings Time Work for Your Child
Updated: Oct 25, 2022
*Edits have been made on this Blog Post as of October 2022
Well, here we go again!
If you live in Hawaii, Arizona, or Puerto Rico - you can kick back and relax. You don't have any time changes to worry about! For everyone else....
Most of us in the United States will turn our clocks back one hour on November 6th, 2022 at 2:00AM.
Just because the time is shifting back by an hour, DOESN'T mean that you have to accept your new wake up time as being an hour earlier. The beautiful thing about schedules is that we can tweak them!
Like with any schedule change, lower your expectations. Your new schedule is not going to be perfect overnight. While it's true, some easy going children will adjust quickly, most will take a little longer to fully adjust (typically around 7-14 days).
I have found that the most important thing is to go in with a PLAN. For some of you, a plan is all you will need to feel confident! For others, you might want a little more support. If you are nervous about the time change then be sure to sign up for my free email reminders at the end of this blog!
For some of these plans, you need to start implementing them almost a week before hand!
So read up now and decide which plan will work best for you and your child
When it comes to the time change you have 4 options:
The Slow and Easy Approach
The Quick Transition Plan
The Get-er Done on the Weekend-er
The Do Nothing None-Plan
The Slow and Easy Approach
What type of child does this plan work for: Anyone, but especially really young babies and children who are really sensitive to change. This plan is also great for children who have the flexibility to start adjusting their schedule long before the time change occurs. If your child has to leave for daycare shortly after they wake up, then this plan may not work out too well because we are going to start adjusting their schedule forward before the time change occurs!
What type of parent this plan works for: Detailed oriented, type A, planners!
When to start this plan: Monday October 31st, 2022
This plan takes a very detail oriented parent who wants to plan in advance! Every two days you will work on adjusting your child's schedule later by 15 minutes. I recommend starting with the first nap of the day (if your child is no longer napping then you can start with bedtime!).
If your child wakes up for the day or for their nap at an earlier time, despite you trying to adjust their day later, try to encourage them to stay in their crib/bed until as close to their new wake time as possible! It can take their little bodies some time to adjust - but they will get there! If you start this plan on Tuesday October 31st, then they will be on track to adjust to the new time change when Daylight Savings Time ends!
Monday10/31 - Tuesday11/1: Adjust 15 minutes from starting point
Wednesday 11/2- Thursday11/3 Adjust 30 minutes from starting point
Friday 11/4 - Saturday 11/5: Adjust 45 minutes from starting point
Sunday 11/6: Adjust 1 hour from starting point (Which will be the first day of daylight savings time!)
With this plan, know that it is normal if your child does not adjust to the changes you are making right away. That's why you will introduce your new schedule for two days before you change it again. It can take them some time to adjust - this is nothing to stress about! Even if your child has not fully adjusted after two days, keep moving forward with the plan - your child may need just a little extra sleep pressure to help them to adjust. Whenever you adjust your schedule, naps may feel a little wonky - hang tight and let your child's schedule regulate! If they wake from their naps early or take longer to fall asleep then you will maintain crib time until as close to their new wake up time, or you will wake them up once they hit their new wake up time!
The Quick Transition Plan
What type of child this plan work for: Anyone, but babies who have a harder time with change may not fully adjust until 2 weeks after you start this plan! Since this plan is a consolidated version of the first plan, I find that babies who are older than 7/8 months generally do better as their wake windows are a little more flexible! Like the previous plan, this plan is also great for children who have the flexibility to start adjusting their schedule before the time change occurs. If your child has to leave for daycare shortly after they wake up, then this plan may not work out too well because we are going to start adjusting their schedule forward before the time change occurs!
What type of parent this plan works for: Type A-ish who may have procrastinated in getting ready for the end of daylight savings time!
When to start this plan: Thursday, November 3rd
Did you forget to start adjusting your child in preparation for daylight savings time and you are now panicking? Don't worry! We can still use a consolidated version of the transitional plan. Every day leading up to daylight savings time you will work on adjusting your child's schedule later by 15 minutes. I recommend starting with the first nap of the day (if your child is no longer napping then you can start with bedtime!). If you start this plan on Wednesday November 3rd then they will be on track to adjust to the new time change when Daylight Savings Time ends!
Thursday November 3rd: Adjust 15 minutes from starting point
Friday November 4th: Adjust 30 minutes from starting point
Saturday November 5th: Adjust 45 minutes from starting point
Sunday November 6th: Adjust 1 hour from starting point
Some children do GREAT with this plan! Others will take some time to catch up to their new wake times. Every child is different, some will adjust after a few days, some will adjust after a few weeks. Stay consistent with your approach and you will get back on track!
The Get-er Done on the Weekend-er
What type of child this plan work for: This plan involves a fairly quick transition, and therefore it's a plan where we will need to be more flexible with wake windows! This plan can work for easy going children. The older a child is, and the more easy going a child is, the better this plan will work! I typically recommend this plan for 1 year and older. This plan also may be necessary for parents who don't have the capability to adjust their child's schedule earlier due to their schedule!
What type of parent this plan works for: Type B parent who would rather not spend their weeks planning ahead for the change - or who just generally forgot to plan ahead!
When to start this plan: Friday November 4th
Oops! It's the weekend before the time change and you completely forgot that you would have to adjust your child's schedule back! Don't stress about it! Or maybe you are a working parent and you really only have the choice to wait until the weekend.. Don't worry! I have a plan for you too!
For this plan you will need to push wake windows by 30 minutes at a time. For some children this will feel like a piece of cake, for others it will be HARD - especially really sensitive or young children. My advice is to be very intentional with your time, get outside if you can, rotate out your toys or activities, or get in the bath! Who said you can't take three baths a day!
For this tactic we will take a different approach of moving bedtime later on Friday Night. This can be tricky - the last thing we want to do is make your child incredibly overtired. Set a goal for 10 minutes at a time, if you notice that your child becomes overtired then start heading to bed. We will just need to take things a little slower. The good news about this plan is that since we are starting on Friday night, we have all day Sunday as a buffer day - if you have not naturally met your goals by Sunday morning then you have Sunday to reinforce the new schedule or to continue inching along to your goals.
This is the plan we will be doing with our own boys! It is normal for it to feel hard at first, but I would rather have a couple of days that feel hard, then to have the process drawn out over a couple of weeks. Keep in mind that my boys are older as well (Almost 3 and a half!) so their wake windows are more flexible then those of a 4 month old. If your child is not adjusting well to the plan then maintain your new bedtime and nap times for a solid 2 weeks - it can just take some time. It is so important to remember that the goal is to not let your child get overtired - overtired children will experience sleep disruptions - if your child starts to become overtired then you may need to put them down earlier and take a slower approach. Even if that means that you are not fully adjusted until well after Daylight savings time.
The Do Nothing Plan!
What type of child this plan work for: Any child!
What type of parent this plan works for: Anyone, but especially families who have the ability to be more flexible with their schedules (not dependent on a set wake time in order to follow their typical schedule)
Just because adults have to be cognitive of a time change, does not mean that our children do! If you have the freedom and desire to avoid adjusting their schedule, then don't! Let your children to continue to wake when they naturally would.
For some children this may mean that while they used to wake at 7:30, they will now wake at 6:30. Maybe you are naturally a morning person and this will work well for you, or maybe you are just excited about an even earlier bedtime (Hello to the child free life at 6:30 PM!)
Some of you may have noticed that your children have naturally already adjusted over the past few weeks. As the sun starts rising later and later in the morning, your child may naturally have pushed their wake time. When they used to get up at 6:00 AM they might now be naturally rising at 7:00 AM - so when the time changes they will rise at 6:00 AM again. This is often the case for children who spend lots of time outdoors, and for parents who are able to be more flexible with their wake up times.
Other Tools You can Use to Your Advantage
Disclaimer: This section contains affiliate links. I would never recommend products I would not use myself. If you use my link to purchase a product then I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using my links and helping my small business thrive!
Put Me in Your Pocket!
Worried that you will forget, or completely overwhelmed with the idea of adjusting your child's schedule? Let me remind you and coach you through it! Click the link below and then select which plan you are wanting to follow! I'll do the rest of the work :)
Any time you adjust your child's schedule, you can help them to establish a strong rhythm by exposing them as much natural light as possible during awake time. If you cannot go outside, then open up all the windows and flood the house with that natural light.
Use an Okay to Wake Clock
An Okay to Wake Clock is a clock that changes colors when it is time to get up! Most people wait until their child is in a toddler bed to introduce this type of a clock, but I highly recommend introducing it as early as possible! The earlier you start using this clock, the more "routine" it will become for your child. These clocks can be especially helpful with the time change! Many of my clients LOVE the Hatch, it is a sound machine and Time to Rise Clock - and you can control it from your phone! We personally love the Echo Glow, it works GREAT with any Alexa Device, and you can customize it's routines from your phone (plus its a little bit on the less expensive side!).
Use Visual Timers
Visual timers are a tool that I will always recommend using for Toddlers and Preschoolers (even if it's not during a time change!). You can use a visual timer to count down when it is time to get ready for bed. This is the one we got for our own boys
Change is hard on everyone! If your child is having trouble adjusting, hang in there! With time and consistency, it will improve! Don't set yourself up for failure by expecting perfection. Strive for progress, not perfection.
Schedule a Consultation
If after daylight savings time you are still experiencing early morning walking's and you would like help, then let's schedule a 45 minute consultation together! I would love to create a plan for you to help your child succeed. You can purchase a consultation by clicking HERE.