How to Adjust Baby’s Schedule When Clocks Change

How to Adjust Baby’s Schedule When Clocks Change

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Depending on where you live, you may be dreading the time change that will happen soon! This is the time of the year where the clocks move an hour backward meaning your child who used to wake up at 6:30am will now potentially wake up at 5:30am the morning of!

I don’t know anyone who loves to see a 5 on their clock, so this time change can lead to some stress for parents! However, there are some options for you to try to minimize the damage from this time change.

(And remember, they will adjust to the new time! It won’t last forever! In fact, I find most parents take more time to adjust than kids do sometimes.)

fall time change and baby sleep

Here are some options for adjusting your baby’s schedule when the clocks change:

Option 1: Gradual Shift (for sensitive littles)

A gradual shift is often best for these babies! Here’s what that looks like:

Each day, try to start the day/get them up 10-15 mins later. This will move their nap(s), meals/feedings, and bedtime later as well. For a baby on one nap, that looks like:

Day 1:

7:00am wake up

12:00pm-2:00pm nap

7:30pm bedtime

Day 2: 

7:15am wake up

12:15-2:15pm nap

7:45pm bedtime

Day 3:

7:30am wake up

12:30-2:30pm nap

8:00pm bedtime

Day 4:

7:45am wake up

12:45-2:45pm nap

8:15pm bedtime

Day 5:

8:00am wake up

1:00-3:00pm nap

8:30pm bedtime

EXCEPT! Day 5 is the morning of the time change and you’ll grab them at 7am (which is the old 8am) to start the day and you’re back to your normal schedule.

If they’re so sensitive that the shift results in poor sleep, take it much slower or work your way to their normal wake up time AFTER the time change. So you may get them at 6am the morning the time has changed and slowly work your way back to 7am. 

Strategies for helping them stay the extra time in their sleep space:

  • Your main priority is delaying exposure to light, so you can hold them in their sleep space until you’ve reached the goal time for that day
  • Rock them back to sleep, feed them back to sleep
  • Use their okay to wake clock to gradually have them spending that extra time in their room before getting up

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Option 2: Quick Shift (for families who can’t change things during the week)

For families that work and kids go to school or daycare, it isn’t really possible to change that schedule during the week. So this options looks like:

Saturday morning before the time change, shift their schedule 30 mins later.

If normal wake up is 7:00am, then get them at 7:30am to start the day. This shifts nap 30 mins later and bedtime 30 mins later.

On the morning of the time change, you’ll shift another 30 mins later except you will have landed at your normal 7:00am even though the clock would have read 8:00am that day.

fall time change adjust baby schedule

Option 3: Do Nothing (my personal favorite)

This requires no math on your end and no prep work before the time change. 

The day the time changes, have all your clocks set to the new time before you go to bed (don’t forget those toddler clocks). 

The morning of the time change, if someone wakes up “early”, use those strategies from above to help them stay in their sleep space a little longer. Maybe rocking, feeding, cuddling, etc. Then go on about the day with the clock already changed and assume the new time from the get go.

Remember, this is only an hour change so it won't’ take weeks to adjust to this time change! Prioritize your sleep if you’re feeling off/tired and work on exposing you and your little ones to light first thing during the day and in the afternoon/early evening to help the circadian rhythms set in the new time.

Author Bio: Ashley Olson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, owner of Heaven Sent Sleep and The Collective for Family Rest and Wellness, and passionate about helping new parents, experienced parents, desperate and sleep-deprived parents form healthy sleep habits for their children.

She has over 4 years of experience in working with families and has completed over 150 hours of coursework plus continuing education related to infant and toddler sleep. The focus of her work is on fostering a routine that grows your bond with your child while improving their sleep habits. She specializes in custom sleep plans and one on one support in changing sleep practices!

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