Time Change and Babies/Toddlers: How to Help Your Little One Adjust

October 26, 2017

Marin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin parent and family coach Dr. Angelique Millette.

With the time change approaching, I have received many emails and phone calls from parents asking how they can help their babies and toddlers transition to the new time without upsetting their child’s sleep.

Starting Sunday November 5, clocks will be set back one hour for the end of daylight savings time. Often called “fall back,” we can count on sunset starting at approximately 5 pm and sunrise starting at approximately 6 am.

You can help your baby/toddler by starting to adjust their internal clocks/circadian rhythms ahead of the time change. Starting Tuesday night, October 31, begin putting your child down 10 minutes later for bed. You can do this by comforting, singing or book reading, and/or starting the bedtime ritual/routine 10 minutes later. Do this for the rest of the week, and when the time change does happen, your child will have slowly adjusted to the new time.

If your baby or toddler’s bedtime is 7 pm, it will look like this:

  • Tuesday, 7:10 pm bedtime
  • Wednesday: 7:20 pm bedtime
  • Thursday: 7:30 pm bedtime
  • Friday: 7:40 pm bedtime
  • Saturday: 7:50 pm bedtime
  • Sunday: 7 pm bedtime (new time—old time will be 8 pm)

You may notice that your child may start yawning at 5 or 6 pm. Alternatively, you may notice that your child is waking up earlier, at 6am or earlier. You can take the time to darken up your little one’s room with darkening drapes, or shades, to help them to sleep a little later.

You can also take this time to make some schedule/routine adjustments. For example if your baby is a “night owl,” you may decide to keep their bedtime the same without using the 10-minute times adjustment. If your baby goes to bed at 9 pm, their new bedtime post-time change will be 8 pm. Be sure to darken your baby’s room to reduce morning light.

It takes about a week for a baby/toddler to adjust to the new time. Your little one may be a bit cranky, or seem more tired than usual. Stick to your routine, and keep the daytime naps the same time.

Angelique Millette works throughout the Bay Area and across the country supporting families and helping them meet life's challenges. She offers infant and toddler sleep classes in Marin and San Francisco. You can learn more about her and her services at www.angeliquemillette.com.

Photo: iStockphoto