Spring Forward is the easier of the two time changes for sleep transitions, but now is the time of year to start thinking about Fall Back! On Sunday, November 7th, at 2 AM we will move the clocks back one hour. This means a normal 6AM wakeup for your kiddo will actually feel like 5AM to their little body. It also means a darker evening each night as we head into winter. On the bright side, this can be a plus for an easier bedtime- no more tricking your toddler into bedtime when it’s light out until 9 PM.
It’s a good idea to do a little prep for this change, because there’s a risk that a super early wakeup is lurking. Before kids, we thought Fall Back was great, right? An extra hour of sleep- sign me up! Now Fall Back just creates a potential for a messed up routine and a much needed extra PSL.
Below are a few general tips for navigating this time change and four options for how to prepare in advance. I'll list the options from least-involved to most-involved, and you can pick your approach!
Tips for navigating a time change:
Make sure baby's room is dark.
This is a game-changer for sleep in general, but important to consider when light will be coming into your baby's room at different times of the day than they are used to. It will also be way lighter in the morning. Light signals to our body that it’s time to be up, and your baby will be ready to go if light is sneaking into their room early in the morning.
Have a solid routine.
Babies thrive on routine, so although the time is changing, most of what regulates our sleep/wake cycles is our routine and daily activities. Keep meal times, play times, nap times, and bedtime routines the same.
Expect a few days for adjustment.
Some babies will go on like nothing happened, others may be slightly off for a few days regardless of how much you prepare. Don't stress- kids are resilient and will bounce back soon. Keep them well-rested and enjoy the cooler weather.
Here are your 4 Options for Adjusting to Fall Back:
With this approach, if your baby was on a 7PM-7AM schedule, he/she is now on a 6PM-6AM schedule starting Sunday. On Saturday night your baby will go to be at the normal 7PM that they are used to, but will likely be up at 6AM Sunday morning “by the clock.” Continue your day by basically shifting everything up by 1 hour based on what the clock says. Bedtime will now fall around 6PM instead of 7PM.
2.Follow the Clock.
On Sunday, try to keep your baby in their sleep space until their “normal” wake up time based on the clock. Start your child’s day when the clock says 7AM and basically ignore the time change part. It may take a few days to adjust to the hour change. Continue with your regular meal times, play times, nap cues, and routines to help your baby adjust seamlessly.
3.Adjust on Saturday.
If you want to adjust your baby's schedule, I recommend making the change on Saturday. On Saturday, delay your day by 30 minutes so everything falls 30 minutes later on the clock than a normal day. If you can only delay it by 15 minutes to start, then delay a little bit before each nap without pushing your baby to be too tired. If your normal day was 7AM-7PM, your Saturday will be 7:30AM-7:30PM. On Sunday, your day will be 30 minutes off from your normal schedule, for example you will start your day at 6:30AM based on the clock. You can either slowly transition back to your ideal start time for the day based on the clock, and how your child handles it throughout the week, or make another 30 minute shift on Sunday and then you will be back to "normal" on the clock.
In order to attempt this approach, move your routine back by 15 minutes each day, so that on Saturday night your bedtime is 8PM (if your normal bedtime was 7PM).On Sunday, your child should wake close to 7AM based on the clock.
This is my least recommended option for two reasons:
You have to remember to shift your schedule earlier by 10-15 minutes for 5-7 days.
Children are unpredictable and days are never exactly the same. Your baby will most likely NOT follow along with your little shifts each day and then all that work was for nothing- in my personal experience, this was the case. If you have a super sensitive baby to schedule changes, you can attempt this approach. If you fall off-track halfway through, resort to the Saturday adjustment!
When all else fails, just keep your baby on their routine. You can adjust after the time change, so don't stress about this if it's just too much to deal with! Also, if your baby is younger than 3-4 months, you shouldn’t really need to worry about this at all, as they are still taking numerous naps throughout the day with mostly unpredictable sleep patterns.
I hope these tips are helpful for you and it helps you find the best approach for your family. For more help, grab my Fall Back Guide here.
Happy Fall Y’all!
Nichole @ Little Peach Sleep