Warning: disoriented days ahead. Just when you thought your sleepless nights were behind you, along comes the dreaded November time change to disrupt baby’s routine (the one you worked so hard to achieve!). If you already have an early riser on your hands, the thought of waking up at 4am might be more than you can bear. But the end of Daylight Savings Time doesn’t have to mean the end of sweet slumber. If you start prepping your little one about a week in advance, you’ll both have an easier time falling back – to sleep!
When Do the Clocks Fall Back in 2020?
This year, Daylight Savings Time officially ends on November 1st – which means the clock goes back after putting little ghouls to bed on Halloween night. For some lucky families, the time change means an extra hour of sleep and a more leisurely start to the days ahead. But for many others, the end of Daylight Savings Time wreaks havoc on baby’s internal clock, which wreaks havoc on everything else. Regardless of whether you’re a devoted guardian of sleep schedules and nap routines, taking a few simple steps before the time change will make the transition less painful for all.
Shift Baby’s Bedtime the Week Before
As with any adjustment, a slow and measured approach is key. In the days leading up to the time change, start nudging baby’s naps and bedtime forward in small increments of no more than 10-15 minutes. This year, that means starting on or around October 25th. If his bedtime is 7pm, put him down at 7:10 or 7:15, and keep shifting a little each day. If you’re consistent with this approach, by the time you work your way up to November 1st, the transition should feel natural. Keeping your little one up longer than 15 minutes after an established bedtime can backfire and result in a cranky, overtired baby – and we all know how that turns out!
The same approach works when we set the clocks forward in the spring – just in reverse. You’d still shift sleep time in 10-15 minute increments, but instead of later, it would be earlier. In other words: shift forward for fall back, and shift back for spring forward (confusing, right?).
Even if your child is a champion sleeper, gradual bedtime shifts will help reset his circadian rhythm and help him adjust to the time change more naturally. You can do the same for older kids, too – although they typically don’t struggle as much with Daylight Savings Time.
Reinforce a Calm Sleep Environment
We know some babies have minds of their own when it comes to sleep, so if yours struggles with the gradual shifts leading up to the time change, don’t fret. Once the clocks shift back in November, it gets darker sooner (sometimes as early as 5PM!), which will help with earlier bedtimes. But there’s a big catch: though night falls sooner in the fall and winter months, daybreak comes sooner, too. If you want to prevent your baby or toddler from waking up with the sun, be sure to keep the room as dark as possible with room darkening or blackout shades.
Start winding baby down a little sooner, so the bedtime routine is a little longer than before. Baby-friendly sound machines and projectors can make the nursery feel even more peaceful and relaxing. And despite your best efforts, if your little one wakes up earlier than you can bear, the Lulla-Vibe™ Vibrating Mattress Pad can help lull him back to sleep.
Toddlers might need a slightly more obvious approach in adjusting to new wake-up times, so you could also try a special alarm clock that uses colors or emojis to alert them when it’s ok to get out of bed and when they should stay put instead.
Sleep transitions are always tough, but thankfully they’re also temporary. No matter how old you are, it takes time to adjust to a new routine, so give your little one and yourself some much-needed grace. We promise things will eventually “fall back” into place.