Time to Change Those Clocks: Spring Forward Edition

It’s almost that time again. It seems like I was just writing up my post for “fall back” and now it’s already time to “spring forward”. 

Personally, I enjoy having more daylight in my days. But as a parent, I definitely don’t appreciate the havoc that time change brings to my daughter’s sleep schedule. And because our children tend to be on a more structured schedule than we are as adults, this shift can have a great effect on our babies and take a longer period for them to adjust. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little more smoothly for your family. 

And no matter how you go about talking about a time change, it always feels like we're going in circles. So bear with me as I try to help explain how to handle losing that extra hour. 

First, I recommend that you leave your clock alone Saturday night.  Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks.  Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time. 

Children over age 3

My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time.  So exactly how does that work?  Say for example you have a child that does not nap and normally went to bed at 7pm (before the time change), you would now put him to bed at 7:30pm on Sunday night (the first night of the new time).  Continue this for three nights with putting him or her to bed 30 minutes later than normal time. Then on the fourth night, bedtime will be moved back to the original 7pm.

Toddlers age 1 to 3

Beginning on Sunday (based on the new time), start off with all naps and bedtime being 30 minutes later than normal. For example, if your child’s nap was at noon before the time change, it should now be at 12:30pm. Continue with this 30-minute adjustment for the first three days. If your little one is still taking two naps a day, then both naps should be moved later by a half hour.

On the fourth night, move bedtime back to original time it was before spring forward. On the fifth day, do the same with naps.

Infants up to age 1

For babies with predictable sleep schedules (usually over 6 months old and always going to bed or nap around the same time each day), shift your sleep times by a smaller increment of 15 minutes.  For example, if bedtime was 7pm (before the time change), you will move bedtime 15 minutes each night until you reach the normal time again. So the first night you would put him down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on.  In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm. You can use this same approach if you are on a consistent nap schedule as well.   

If their bedtime is not predictable (up to 6 months old), simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone. 

Another tip that is very helpful as the daylight grows longer is to darken your child’s room. Your child may wake up too early with the sun rising earlier now in the morning and may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside so darkening the room could make a big difference.  Even though there are extra hours of daylight, children will always still need the same amount of sleep.  

If there’s too much light coming in around your blinds or blackout curtains, take a look at something like Blackout EZ window coverings for a great way to keep the room nice and dark for sleeping.

It may take your little loves a bit more time to fall asleep, and this is perfectly normal since they initially won’t be quite as tired on the new time. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, and some children can take up to a month. Just remember to be patient and consistent, and it will happen.

Good luck, fellow parents! We’re all in this together and we will survive!

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