As my son has gotten older, my favorite way to describe the twice-yearly time change is that we ‘time travel’. The look on his face each time I say it brings me a lot of joy; it’s like I have completely blown his mind! Admittedly, I am bummed about with the timing of this year’s spring-forward time change, as it happens as it is on my birthday. I am being robbed of an extra hour to celebrate!
Every parent who experiences the time change HATES it due to the impact it can have on their little one’s schedule. However, there is some good news - Springing forward is not as brutal as Falling back. Parents of early risers rejoice because the time change allows your little one to sleep later!
Below are some recommendations on how to handle the time change and know which option(s) is best for your family:
For early risers: While the time change does not change your little one’s biological clock, it does change their wake-up time on the actual clock. If they normally wake up at 5:30 am, they will now be waking at 6:30 am after the time change. Hooray! There is really nothing we need to do leading up to the time change for these earlier risers. On the morning following the time change, use light and darkness to help them adjust and keep them on their new (later) schedule. Make sure their room is very dark so that the morning light doesn’t wake them. And when the time rolls around that they should be awake, make sure you are exposing them to TONS of light.
To keep the momentum going AFTER the time changes, you will want to make sure your babe is getting enough restorative night sleep. If they are now sleeping approximately 10 hours at night, you want to slowly shift their bedtime to take place a bit earlier so that they reclaim that missing hour and get the needed 11 – 12 hours of sleep at night.
Here is how to go about the shift: For three nights following the Sunday time change, move bedtime earlier by 15 minutes. For example, if bedtime was 7:30 pm, move it to 7:15 pm on M, T, W. If they continue to sleep later (well past 6:00 am) then we keep the shift going for three more days (TH, F, S) by bumping bedtime to 7:00 pm. If they continue waking after 6:00 am, keep the shift going in three-day increments until their schedule has successfully shifted so that they get the proper amount of night sleep. If at any point, wakeups happen before 6:00 am then we have gone too far, and you will want to adjust bedtime by reversing the 15-minute increments in order to keep the later wake up!
If you are happy with your child’s schedule: If you are happy with the schedule your little one has, then there is nothing you need to do prior to the time change. However, on the day of the time change, you want to wake your little one up an hour early if you want to maintain the same schedule. (This is if they are sleeping past 7:00 am. We do not want to wake them if it means they will be up before 6:00 am.) If your little one happens to struggle with naps on the Sunday of the time change, remember not to put them to bed too early. If you put them to bed at 5:00 pm, remember, that is the same as 4:00 pm the day before. On this day only you may be better off adding in a short nap to avoid a total meltdown. If they take good naps, you will proceed as normal for their wake times and bedtime!
Got a sleep-in king or queen: If you are one of the lucky ones with a little one who already sleeps late, read on for how you should handle the time change. If your little is already sleeping to 8:00 am, they will now be waking at 9:00 am following the time change, which is too late. For this, I recommend dividing the time-change hour in half and waking your little one up 30 minutes earlier. Remember, we don’t want to take away too much from their night sleep, as it is the most restorative! Proceed with their normal daily schedule from there and carry-on with the same bedtime schedule you use based on their naps.
What we do in our house: Wondering how I will handle the time change with my four-year-old? I will do nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
He is already on a good schedule and sleeping past 7:00 am. I will not be waking him earlier and will instead let him sleep until 8:00 am (what was previously 7:00 am) and go about the rest of the day.
Since he is no longer napping, I will likely put him down at 8:00 pm (what was previously 7:00 pm) and proceed with his normal schedule in the following days. As I have said before, the impact of the time change will last only a few days at most, and then its back to our regularly scheduled programing!
Questions? Head over to my post on Instagram here!