The end of daylight savings time is almost here. A time that, before having children, meant an extra hour of sleep. Now, you might be questioning why we turn the clocks back at all! Not to fear though. With Zen Sleepwear and a solid plan in place, you can “fall back” and keep your little one’s sleep schedule on track.
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Owner of La Lune Consulting, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant
There are three ways to prepare for the end of daylight savings time:
Strategy #1: start early
The week leading up to the end of daylight savings, slowly shift your little one’s schedule by 10 minutes each day. Start by beginning your morning the Monday before the time change 10 minutes later than normal. This will then set you up for the rest of the day running 10 minutes “late”. Whether you are following wake times or clock times, ensure that you start nap(s) and bedtime 10 minutes later than the previous day until you are running an hour later then your normal schedule. When daylight savings ends, you will already be on the new schedule.
Let’s say your little one is 8 months and normally wakes up around 7:00am, has a three hour wake time, therefore takes a nap around 10:00am and 3:00pm and has a bedtime of 7:00pm. The morning you start the slow shift, you will wait to get her out of her crib until 7:10am. If she is having a hard time hanging out on her own, feel free to go in and pick her up and quietly hold her in the dark until it is 10 minutes past wake up time, keeping the lights off and sound machine on.
It’s important that you wait the full 10 minutes to start your morning, so that you are set up to successfully push naps and bedtime 10 minutes later as well. Your nap times will now be around 10:10am and 3:10pm with a bedtime of 7:10pm. The next day your morning will start at 7:20am, nap times will be 10:20am and 3:20pm with a bedtime of 7:20pm. And so on and so forth until you hit a bedtime of 8:00pm. Come Sunday, you will be back to your original timing of a 7:00pm bedtime, and thus morning wake up and naps will go back as well. During the slow shift, wake times and nap lengths will stay the same. The important piece here is that you are shifting the entire schedule 10 minutes each day.
Strategy #2: a quick shift
Looking to speed things up a bit? Whether you like to do things a bit more efficiently or don’t have enough time to follow the method above, you can still prepare for the time change! Two days prior to the end of daylight savings, expand every wake window by 10 minutes. The tricky part with a quick shift is to not push timing too much, risking that your little one gets overtired and takes a poor nap or has a difficult night as a result. Sticking to a 10-minute shift will help to minimize overtiredness versus a larger time shift and allow for more successful nights and naps.
Let’s go back to your 8-month-old that normally wakes up around 7:00am and has a three-hour wake time. On Friday, you will stretch each wake window to three hours and 10 minutes. Naps will now be around 10:10am and 3:20pm, and bedtime at 7:30pm. Her wake up time on Saturday will now be 7:30am, setting you up for naps at 10:40am and 3:50pm, with a bedtime of 8:00pm. Ta-da! You are ready for the time to fall back as she will now wake at 7:00am (what would’ve been 8:00am) on Sunday morning!
Strategy #3: stay the same
There is one more option when it comes to adjusting to the time change. That is, to do nothing! Some families simply shift their schedule twice a year and maintain a spring/summer schedule and a fall/winter schedule. The only thing that changes are the clock times.
Your 8-month-old will now be going to bed at 6:00pm and waking up at 6:00am. This means nap times will now be around 9:00am and 2:00pm. Then come daylight savings in March, you will shift back to a 7:00pm bedtime with a 7:00am wake up time.
Other families find this option impossible for reasons such as they have preschool or school-age kiddos, or they need to abide by their own work/class schedules. It’s up to you to decide whatever works best for your family and daily schedule.
No matter which strategy you choose to go with, follow these tips:
- Use light and dark in your favor. Our circadian rhythm is dictated by lightness and darkness. Therefore, getting lots of light during wake times and keeping things dark and calm during sleep times will help to reset your little one’s internal clock.
- Continue your normal routines. Bedtime and nap time routines should all stay the same no matter what time they are at. It’s the steps in these routines, such as putting on her Nested Bean Zen Sack, that help signal to your little one’s brain that it’s time for sleep.
- Zen Sleepwear can help your child adjust to the time change even easier. The lightly weighted Cuddle Pads make your baby feel like she’s being held, providing that extra comfort to help her settle into sleep and stay asleep longer. Dressing your little one in Zen Sleepwear can help reduce the amount of night wakings and/or short naps she may otherwise experience when adjusting to a new schedule.
- Ask for help if you need it! There is absolutely NO shame is asking for help. Somewhere along the way, parents got the idea that they have to figure things out all on their own. However, careers like a sleep coach wouldn’t exist if that were true! Sometimes you need a guide and a cheerleader on your side. If you are struggling with any sleep trouble, related to time changes or not, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.