“Fall Back” Time Change: How to Prepare

Fall Back Time Change Baby Sleep

This coming Saturday night, (Sunday Morning November 5th, 2017 at 2:00AM) it is time to change the clocks back 1 hour.  Remember the days before kids? “Fall Back” was associated with a positive feeling.  It meant we got a extra hour of sleep! Instead of waking at 7AM, after changing the clocks, 7AM became 6AM and we would carry on sleeping for another 60 minutes! The BEST feeling.

But now, you’re a parent and you have little children and the whole turning-back-the-clocks thing does not mean an extra hour of sleep. Not at all.  In fact, this time change tends to create a bit of stress and worry for families. The truth is though, it’s really not such a big deal.  It doesn’t have to be dramatic transition and everyone should be on track within a week or so. 

The time change is quickly approaching and this is a bit time sensitive, so I am just going to make this simple. Here is what you can do to gently prepare for the time change over the next few nights. 

Basically, the clocks go back an hour which means that 7PM bedtime will be the new 6PM. What we can do before Sunday is gently start to nudge baby or child to bed a little bit later each night until they are falling asleep at 8PM old time (which will be 7PM once the clocks are changed.) The new 7PM will feel like 8PM for your little munchkin so you can spend the next few nights putting your baby down for sleep slightly later by 15 minutes every night or two. 

Whenever you shift sleep starts the whole schedule must shift also. Get baby up 15 mins later in the AM, begin mealtimes 15 minutes later and stretch naps by 15 minutes as well. Continue to do this over the next few days, gradually pushing sleep starts every day or two so  that by the time the clocks actually change, your sweet babe is used to this new bedtime and the schedule remains intact. 

Easy peasy, right? Confused? Maybe this example will help:

Adjusting Over a Few Days : 

(EXAMPLE:  7PM bedtime, 6AM Wake, 1PM Nap )

  • Night #1 Wednesday 5 Days before change: 7:15PM asleep, 6:15AM out of sleep space, 1:15PM Nap start 
  • Night #2 Thursday: 7:30PM asleep, 6:30AM out of sleep space, 1:30PM Nap start
  • Night #3 Friday: 7:45PM asleep, 6:45AM out of sleep space, 1:45PM Nap start
  • Night #4 Saturday: (Clocks change at 2AM) 7:45/8PM asleep, NEW TIME 6AM out of sleep space (7AM old time), NEW TIME 1PM Nap start (2PM old time )
  • Night #5 Sunday CLOCKS ARE CHANGED: 7PM new time (8PM old time), new time 6AM out of sleep space (7AM old time) new time 1PM  (2PM old time), 
  • Night #6 Monday:  7PM asleep, 6AM out of sleep space, 1PM nap start (all new times)

 Look at that! We did it! You could also just make the switch on Sunday morning: 

Immediately Switch Over to the New Time: 

 If you are not one for planning and your family works better just going with the flow you can change the clocks Saturday night, before you head to bed. When you wake up Sunday morning, just assume the new time. Hold your baby or child to your set AM wake time (nothing earlier than 6AM NEW TIME) and do meals and naps as per usual according to the new time. Make sure your baby or toddler gets in a good nap that afternoon so that they do not become over-tired heading into the later bedtime.  The days following the change, be consistent with keeping your baby or toddler in their sleep space until the after 6AM (new time) and make naps a priority.

No matter how you make the change:

  • Don’t forget to adjust meal times accordingly.
  • Get outside in the AM! Get some fresh air and expose baby or child to natural light. Eat breakfast next to the window, open the blinds, let the light shine in!
  • Make sure baby or toddler takes some quality naps leading up to the change and the days following.  Remember, baby will be going down for sleep periods later than normal (gradually or all at once) so we want to make sure baby takes restorative, restful naps as baby is adjusting. 
  • If things look a little hairy the first few days/nights after the time change that’s ok.  Continue to use light and dark and your strong sleep time routines to help regulate sleep/wake rhythms.  Even if sleep gets off track a little, it shouldn’t take longer than 4-7 nights for baby or child to adjust. After all, it is only 1 hour.

So there you have it.  “Fall Back” really isn’t that scary. Consistency (as always) is queen.  If you continue to promote independent sleep, use your strong wind down sleep routines and structure your daytime schedule accordingly, everything should be smooth and settled in about a week. If not, email me 🙂 Happy November!