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

October 29, 2016

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, November 6, clocks will be set back one hour for 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 or toddler by starting to adjust their internal clocks/circadian rhythms ahead of the time change on Sunday. Starting Tuesday, November 1, begin to put baby 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, so when the time change does happen, your baby 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 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 is a “night owl,” you may decide to keep their bedtime the same without using the 10-minute times adjustment. So, if your baby goes to bed at 9 pm, their new bedtime will be 8 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 more tired then usual. Stick to your routine, and keep the day time naps the same time. And enjoy the longer days exploring and playing with your little one.

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

Photo: iStockphoto