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

March 2, 2014

Sleeping toddlerMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin parent coach, infant/toddler sleep researcher, and family therapist Angelique Millette.

With the time change approaching, I have received many e-mails 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, March 9, at 2 am, clocks will be set forward one hour—“spring forward.”

You can help your baby/toddler by starting to adjust ahead of the time change. Starting Tuesday night (March 4) begin to put baby down 10 minutes earlier for bed. You can do this by comforting, singing or reading, and starting the bedtime ritual/routine 10 minutes earlier. Do this for the rest of the week, so when the time change does happen, your baby or toddler will have slowly adjusted to the new time.

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

  • Tuesday: 6:50 pm bedtime
  • Wednesday: 6:40 pm bedtime
  • Thursday: 6:30 pm bedtime
  • Friday: 6:20 pm bedtime
  • Saturday: 6:10 pm bedtime
  • Sunday: 7 pm bedtime (new time—old time will be 6 pm)

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

Also, you can take this time to make some schedule/routine adjustments, for example if your baby goes to bed on the early side and wakes up early in the morning (5/6 pm–5/6 am) you may decide to keep their bedtime the same without using the 10-minute times adjustment. So, if your baby goes to bed at 6 pm, don't make any adjustments and with the time change his new bedtime will be 7 pm.

It takes about a week for baby/toddler to adjust to the new time. Your little one may be a bit cranky, or seem tired and may need more nap times during the day. Adjust to your child’s needs and put down for a nap 15 minutes earlier if your child seems overly tired. Otherwise, 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's offering a number of live webinars for parents this month, including Room Sharing (March 5), All About Naps (March 12), and Early Morning Waking (March 13), as well as classes in Marin and San Francisco. You can learn more about her and her services at www.angeliquemillette.com.

Photo: iStockphoto