When I worked as a nanny, I learned very quickly that it was a benefit for everyone in the household to implement some sort of adjusted schedule to help the little girl I cared for transition to the new time change.
Initially, we tried to just go with it – and while this will work for some children, it didn’t for her. It was a disaster! Naps were a mess. She was unable to find her groove and was all over the place with her sleep. Since then, every time Daylight Savings would roll around, we would slowly adjust her schedule so that by the time the clocks changed, she was just about on the new schedule.
Each child is different and some may need more help than others with this type of adjustment.
There are two ways I recommend going about the time change:
You might consider option one, just going with it, if your child is more easygoing. With the natural adjustment to the new time as well as daily activities happening earlier, your child’s circadian rhythm will work out the new schedule all on its own.
If your child wakes daily around 7:00, naps around 12:00, and goes to bed around 7:00, guess what?? That’s what you’re going to do once the time changes. It may take 7 to 10 days for their body to adjust.
That’s it! Simple, right?
However, for other kids – like the one I cared for when I was a nanny – this isn’t a great choice. If your baby has a hard time with transitions or is a little more particular about things, I’d recommend tinkering with their schedule prior to the change so it’s not such a drastic change all at once, and makes for a smoother transition when the time change does occur.
What’s the best way to tinker?
In my work as a nanny and now as a sleep consultant, I find a gradual approach, tweaking the schedule about 15 minutes at a time, works well for this type of baby or child.
Using the same one-nap schedule as before, awake at 7:00, nap at noon, and bedtime at 7:00, you would start about a week prior to the time change and adjust by 15 minutes every 3-4 days. So, on March 9th, you would wake your child at 6:45 to start the day, put them down for their nap at 11:45, and put them in bed for the night at 6:45. After 3-4 days of this, you adjust by another 15 minutes. Wake them at 6:30, nap at 11:30, and bedtime at 6:30. This is also likely when the time change will occur – March 13th, so to make things trickier(!), once this happens, you would wake them at 7:30, nap at 12:30, and bedtime at 7:30. After 3-4 days, adjust by another 15 minutes. Wake at 7:15, nap at 12:15, and bedtime at 7:15. Finally, after another 3-4 days of this schedule, you go back to their “regular” schedule of waking at 7:00, napping at noon, and bedtime at 7:00. And now your child should be all adjusted!
The same concept applies to children on a 2- or 3-nap schedule. Everything just happens what feels like 15 minutes earlier to start, and then as the time changes, continuing this pattern every few days until your baby is fully adjusted.
Make sure you check out the daylight savings posts on my Instagram account, save them for future reference, and share them with any mom friends you have.
If you find that your little one isn’t yet on a schedule, or you’re needing some help navigating your child’s sleep, don’t hesitate to reach out today. I offer free discovery calls where we can chat about what’s currently going on with your child and to see how I might be able to help you. I also have a free chart that might help you with figuring out your child’s most appropriate schedule, based on their age. Make sure you subscribe here and it will be sent to your inbox!