Daylight savings time begins November 5th. Gradually changing daylight savings bedtimes can avoid upsetting your child’s sleep for days.

With the time change approaching, I have received many e-mails and phone calls from parents asking about changing daylight savings bedtimes. Parents want to know how they can help their babies, and toddlers transition to the new time without upsetting their child’s sleep.

Starting Sunday November 5, clocks will be set back one hour for daylight savings time. Often called “fall back,” we can count on sunset starting at approximately 5 p.m. and sunrise starting at approximately 6 a.m.

Adjusting Your Child’s Internal Clock

You can help your baby/toddler by starting to adjust their internal clocks/circadian rhythms ahead of the time change on Sunday. Starting Tuesday night October 31st, begin to put baby down 10 minutes later for bed.

stack of children's books

Extra books helps ease into new bedtimes

You can do this by comforting, singing or book reading, and/or starting the bedtime ritual/routine 10 minutes later. Do this for the rest of the week, so when the time change does happen, your baby will have slowly adjusted to the new time. You will want to think about preparing the sleep environment.

If your baby/toddler’s bedtime is 7p.m., it will look like this:

Tuesday 7:10pm bedtime
Wednesday 7:20pm bedtime
Thursday 7:30pm bedtime
Friday 7:40pm bedtime
Saturday 7:50pm bedtime
Sunday 7pm bedtime (new time, old time will be 8 p.m.)

You may notice that your baby/toddler may start yawning at 5 or 6 p.m. Alternatively, you may notice that your baby is waking up earlier, at 6 a.m. or earlier. You can take the time to darken up your baby/toddler’s room with darkening drapes, or shades, to help them to sleep a little later.

Also, you can take this time to make some schedule/routine adjustments, for example if your baby is a “night owl,” you may decide to keep their bedtime the same without using the 10-minute times adjustment. So, if your baby goes to bed at 9 p.m., their new bedtime will be 8 p.m. Do be sure to darken your baby’s room to reduce morning light. Consider reading more parent support information at Tuck.com.

It takes about a week for baby/toddler to adjust to the new time. Your little one may be a bit cranky, or seem more tired then usual. Stick to your routine, and keep the daytime naps the same time.

Thanks Dr. Angelique Millette for thinking this through! If you find that you are struggling with making this change, please do reach out for support.

Peaceful Sleeping!

Dr. Meggan Hartman is a pediatric sleep and new parent consultant. She can be reached at meggan@megganhartman.com