Fall Back

Daylight Savings

and baby sleep

Once upon a time, changing the clocks back meant that you could lie in for an extra hour!

Well, that was likely before you had kids!

Returning to standard time and setting the clocks back may cause extra early wake-ups for children for days and even weeks after. If your little one is already an early riser, you may be a little worried. Don’t fret! There are a few options you can choose to minimise extra early wake-ups.

Routine & Consistency

Be sure to keep the all-important bedtime routine as consistent as possible. Babies and children thrive on routine so keeping it consistent will make the transition easier. Ensure the routine is calming and predictable.

This adjustment may cause your little ones to become tired or over-tired.

Did you know that one of the key signs of overtired toddlers and children is hyperactivity? The stress hormones that surge when your little one becomes overtired (including cortisol and adrenaline) causes a second wind, which often causes hyperactivity. When possible, try to reduce extra stimulation and activities in favour for a calmer environment, with quiet play or reading.

Choose the Right Method For Your Family

There are several ways to approach “falling back.”  Take a read and decide what route is best for your little one and family!

Go with the flow! If you don’t want to prepare ahead of time or have forgotten, don’t worry! You can go with the flow.

Change the clocks back an hour on before you go to bed on Saturday night, wake up on Sunday morning (with hope your little one(s) sleep in a little longer) and adjust the schedule immediately to the new time. If your little one is fairly adaptable, or not on a set routine, this may work quite well for you. It may take a few days or up to a week to adjust to the new time.

Slow and Steady! A gentle transition is a good choice for many families. Bedtime will slowly creep later for several days before the clocks officially fall back.

If you choose to help your little one adjust to the time change in advance, start by adjusting nap and bedtimes a little later between 4 to up to 14 days ahead. 

The transition schedule below outlines sample changes to make with a 7 p.m. bedtime and how to change it either 7 or 4 days before the time change.

You can also look at making bedtime routine 15 minutes longer by chatting a little longer with toddlers and older children, reading an extra story or sing an extra song, just to keep them up longer but in a “zen” environment to help them stay awake.

If you can, keep your little one in a dark or dimly lit environment a little later in the morning and delaying feeding by approximately 15 minutes a day as well. It will help with the transition and reduce the likelihood of early morning wake-ups!

Patience and Consistency is Key. Like so many things in parenthood, being patient and consistent in your approach is essential. Some respond with ease to these changes and some find the changes really challenging. Stay consistent with your plan and it will help with any testing from babies and toddlers who resist change.

I hope this helps avoid early mornings and the transition is smooth for you!

Mary Foster is the founder of Sleepy Lambs Sleep Consulting, and mum of three little ones (at one time three under three).

She’s a proud Canadian, loves living in England and is passionate about healthy sleep with a strong focus on emotional wellness, using her education background in science.

Sleepy Lambs Sleep Consultants support families around the world, and the Sleepy Lambs Sleep Academy is an affordable and comprehensive online sleep program, has supported families worldwide.

In 2018, we launched a comprehensive training program to become a Certified Sleepy Lambs Sleep Consultant and franchise program. Opportunities are available worldwide. Visit SleepConsultantCourse.com for more info.

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