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Helping Your Child Adjust to The End of Daylight Saving Time

Beautiful little girl with alarm clock on bed in the bedroom

Nov 1st is the end of Daylight Saving Time – that means it’s time to “fall back” and set the clocks back an hour. In your pre-parenthood days you may have looked forward to that extra hour of sleep. For me it was always a treat – the equivalent of playing hooky from school or reaching into the pocket of my winter jacket and finding a twenty dollar bill that had been missing since last spring.

Sadly, once we become parents the end of daylight saving time is something to get a lot less excited about. It’s a worry – we know that 6:00 am wake ups will become 5:00 am wake ups, naps and bedtimes will be off – even meals!

But here’s the good news. The time change this fall doesn’t have to be a schedule buster or sleep wrecker. You can help your child transition to the new time without a hitch. All it takes is a bit of advance planning. Try one, or a combination of the following tactics, and your child should make the transition smoothly within the week.

Tip 1 – Cold Turkey: When the time changes, switch to the new time right away. Switch all meals, activities and naps to the new time as well. Your child’s wake up times may be a bit off for a few days, but don’t worry – they’ll adjust. Try not to start the day before 6:00 am if possible. If your child is fairly easy-going the adjustment to the new time should be quick and painless with this no-nonsense approach.

Tip 2 – Work Up To It: This approach is helpful for children that may be more sensitive to being overtired or disrupted by changes in schedules, or the kind of children that tend to wake up on the early side. Start 3 or 4 days before the time change by moving your child’s entire schedule, including meals 15 minutes later each day. For example, if your child usually goes to bed at 7:00 pm try to push it until:

  • 7:15 pm on October 29th
  • 7:30 pm on October 30th
  • 7:45 pm on October 31st
  • 8:00 pm on November 1st

You can take an even slower approach if you want to and move bedtime in even smaller increments over the course of a week or so leading up to the change. At the new wake up time, turn on the lights and expose your child to natural light to help reset their internal clock.

Tip 3 – Fix It Afterwards: Wait until the day of the time change and adjust your child’s schedule over the following days. This method is good for children that tend to get overtired. Just keep in mind that there may be some early mornings and it can take a bit longer to adjust. Most children and adults will naturally adjust to the new time within the week.

Sweet Dreams and Happy Fall!

Alison Bevan – Sleepytime Coach

Pediatric Sleep Consultant – The Center For Advanced Pediatrics


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