Daylight Saving Time - Fall Back 2023: Sleep Tips for Babies and Toddlers

baby sleep daylilght saving time fall back 2023 toddler sleep Nov 01, 2023

Hey tired parents, it's that time of year again! On Sunday, November 5, 2023, we're all set to turn back our clocks an hour as Daylight Saving Time comes to an end. While this might seem like a promising prospect for more sleep, it can be a bit of a double-edged sword when you have babies or toddlers in the house. Why? Well, because when your little one thinks it's bedtime, they still have an extra hour to stay up. And in the morning, when they're all ready to rise and shine, they're supposed to be sleeping for another hour. But don't worry! Let's dive into some practical tips and real-life examples to help you and your child make a smooth transition through the end of Daylight Savings.

Understanding the Challenge

So, why is this "Fall Back" so tricky for our little ones? To understand, let's peek into the lives of some real parents:

Case 1: Sleepy Sam and Midnight Mary Sam, a toddler, goes to bed like clockwork at 8:00 PM every night. But on the day of the time change, when he's all set for bedtime at 8:00 PM, it's actually 7:00 PM, and he's not quite ready for sleep yet. Midnight Mary, his mother, has a real challenge on her hands, dealing with a wide-awake toddler when she's longing for her quiet time.

Case 2: Early Bird Eddie Eddie, a 6-month-old baby, usually wakes up at 6:00 AM, giving his parents a decent night's sleep. But after the time change, Eddie's internal clock is still set at 6:00 AM, which now feels like 5:00 AM to his parents. They're suddenly dealing with early morning waking's and wondering how to cope.

How to Help Your Little Ones Adjust

Let's dive into the nitty-gritty of how you can help your baby or toddler adapt to the time change.

Option 1: Gradual Adjustment

This approach involves making small shifts in your child's schedule in the week leading up to the time change. Let's take a look at how it might work for different schedules:

  • For a 3-nap schedule, starting on Tuesday before the time change, you can gradually push everything back by 10 minutes each day. That means wake-up time, naps, and bedtime all shift 10 minutes later on the clock.

  • If your child follows a 2-nap schedule, the same principle applies, shifting everything back by 10 minutes each day.

  • Even for a single-nap schedule, the gradual 10-minute shift can work wonders.

Remember, these are just examples, and we understand that your child's nap times can vary. The key is to keep in mind three things:

  • Start your mornings 10 minutes later on the clock each day.
  • Maintain your normal wake windows.
  • Bedtime should naturally shift about 10 minutes later on the clock each day.

Option 2: Weekend Adjustments

This one is perfect for those of us who might have missed the gradual shift window. Here's what you can do over the weekend of the time change:

  • Slightly expand each wake window by 5-15 minutes. For example, if your baby usually stays awake for 3 hours, aim for 3 hours 10 minutes.

  • Ensure you're not pushing your little one to become overtired; the idea is just to add a bit of extra awake time.

  • If your toddler is in the picture, add about 15 minutes of awake time before nap or quiet time and 15 more minutes before bedtime on both Saturday and Sunday. You can go back to normal wake windows starting on Monday.

Option 3: Do Nothing

Sometimes, keeping your baby's routine exactly the same, regardless of the clock change, can work for your family. Some parents opt for a "summer bedtime" and a "winter bedtime," and that's perfectly okay.

Remember, the clock time is the only thing changing, and maintaining your baby's normal schedule can be easier for some families. The key is consistency.

Additional Tips for a Smooth Transition

Apart from the adjustment options, here are a few more friendly tips:

  1. Maintain a Consistent Bedtime Routine: A bedtime routine is like a lullaby for your child's brain, signaling that it's time to sleep. It doesn't have to be complicated; just stick to the same activities in the same order every night.

  2. Use Light and Darkness: Expose your child to daylight during awake times to help produce melatonin, the sleepy hormone, later at night. Keep the room dark when it's time to sleep. 

  3. Give Grace to Yourself and Your Child: Adjusting to a clock change takes time. Your child is not a robot; they will adapt in their own time. Be patient with them, and with yourself. 

  4. Ask for Help if Needed: If you find that you're still struggling with sleep issues after adjusting your little one's schedule, consider age-specific classes or phone consultations to get the guidance and support you need.

Daylight Saving Time's "Fall Back" can present some challenges for tired parents, but with a bit of planning, patience, and understanding, you can help your baby or toddler adjust to the time change. And just like Sleepy Sam and Early Bird Eddie show that you're not alone in this journey. With a friendly approach and the right strategies, you and your child can enjoy a smoother transition, and you'll be back to your well-rested selves in no time.