• Janelle Kent

Daylight Saving Time Ends: How to Help Your Little Ones Transition Smoothly

Updated: Oct 25, 2019



Fall back. The most dreaded of the two time changes is happening on November 3rd this year. The end of daylight saving time can be a tough transition for children and parents alike, so here are some tips to help ease your little ones through the time change.


Gradual Approach

Take a week or so to ease more sensitive sleepers into their new sleep times. A gradual approach will mean that they are already going to sleep and waking at the new target times when the clock turns back.


  • Move naps and bedtime up by 15 minutes every 2 days so that after a week you will come to the Sunday and your little ones will already be going to bed at the typical “clock times.”

  • If bedtime is currently 6pm:

  • Take 2 or 3 nights to put them to bed at 6:15

  • Then take another 2 or 3 nights of going to bed at 6:30

  • Then take 2 or 3 nights going to bed at 6:45

  • Finally on Sunday they will be going to bed at the new clock time of 7pm but won’t have to shock their system by keeping them up an hour later having put in the time to gradually shift the sleep time start

Your little ones should be relatively unaffected by the actual time change with this process since you went through the work gradually beforehand.

o You can take an even more gradual approach and only move sleep times up by 5 – 10min every other day. Just plan ahead by 2 weeks or be prepared to still be in transition once the time changes.


  • If bedtime is currently 6pm:

  • Take 2 or 3 nights to put them to bed at 6:15

  • Then take another 2 or 3 nights of going to bed at 6:30

  • Then take 2 or 3 nights going to bed at 6:45

  • Finally on Sunday they will be going to bed at the new clock time of 7pm but won’t have to shock their system by keeping them up an hour later having put in the time to gradually shift the sleep time start


Intermediate Approach

Typically recommended for more adaptable babies and children and for those parents who want to avoid the gradual approach.

  • If your little ones are usually in bed at 6pm, shift the schedule forward by 30 minutes on Friday night so they are going to bed at 6:30 for two nights.

  • After the time change, on Sunday night, you will put them to bed at 7pm. This is the new clock time but will still be close to the 6pm bedtime that they had just 3 nights ago.

  • Don’t forget to shift naps if those are still occurring as well.


Ride it Out Approach

If you have little ones who aren’t particularly sensitive or who adapt well, this can be a solid option for you because it requires no forethought and you can simply go by the new time.

  • Starting on Sunday morning, adjust your schedule by moving meals, naps and bedtimes to align with the clock time.

  • Little ones may need an extra nap or two to make it through the day depending on their wake time needs, how early they woke in morning and if they had successful naps.

  • Waiting until the Sunday to make the adjustments may result in crankier and tired children as opposed to the gradual method listed above.

  • It may take 1 – 2 weeks for their bodies to adjust to the time change.



Additional Tips:


Dramatic wake-up

If your little ones have been waking at 7am, after the time change they may well wake at 6am or earlier.

  • Delay going in to get them until as close to 7am (or their desired wake time) as possible.

  • Bear in mind, 6am is a biologically appropriate time for little ones to wake-up so it may be a while before you can get them back to 7am

  • Once it is 7am (or your desired wake up time) go in a make a big production of how it is time to get up and move through the routines with enthusiasm and vigor so they learn this is the new wake-up time

Resetting their internal clocks

It may take a few weeks for babies and children to adjust their biological clocks with a time change so getting outside for 30 minutes or so in the mornings will help cue their bodies and ease the confusion with their circadian rhythm.


Lighting

  • Make sure the room is dark in the morning to help keep them sleeping until the desired wake time. Once they do wake up or you are getting them out of bed at the desired wake time, expose them to light to help their bodies recognize it’s time to wake up.

  • Provide them with some light exposure in the early evening if possible. Natural light is better though not always possible.

  • Going outside for exposure to natural light about 1.5 to 2.5hrs before bed will help keep them going and assist their bodies in adjusting to the new clock time.

Routine

  • Stick to your usual routine so that the signals for sleep time are consistent.


Keep rested in the days leading to the time change

  • Ensuring that your little ones are well rested prior to the time change will help them make the adjustment with less irritability and better chances of getting to sleep at the new time.




Whichever approach you decide will work best for your family, please be sure to leave them in their room until at least 6am. At that time you walk in and greet them with sunshine and excitement in order to help them reset their internal clocks and maintain some kind of morning structure for you!

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