Your Guide to Sleep and Daylight Savings This Fall

If you’ve been around Jolie Sleep since, oh, well…this last spring when the clocks rolled ahead, you know that I tread lightly when it comes to messing with your baby’s sleep.

In my experience as a nanny, and now as a sleep consultant, I’ve been known to trend more on the conservative side of drastic schedule changes with sleep. A whole hour can really throw a baby out of whack! And, truthfully, that’s the last thing we want.

There are two ways you can go about navigating the time change this fall – just like I go over in the spring, only reversed for “falling back”:

  1. Just going with it
  2. Tinkering with the schedule prior to the change

Just Go With It

This is an option that will work for some kids – mostly school-age children or those who are in daycare and need to be on the new schedule rather quickly. It can also work for some younger kids if they have more of a chill personality and are super flexible and easygoing when it comes to changes to their sleep schedule.

Most young children are more sensitive to changes, so be wary if you’re considering this option with a younger child.

Here’s what to do: nothing!

If their schedule is waking for the day at 7:00 a.m., napping from 12:00-2:00 p.m., and going to bed at 7:00 p.m. before the time change, it’s going to be that after the time change. Their daily activities and routines will feel like they’re occurring about an hour earlier than what they were previously used to, and it will take about 7-10 days for their body to fully adjust.

The first few days are always the toughest. Give it time and consistency and everything will eventually fall into place.

A Gradual Approach – Tinkering with the Schedule

This is my go-to recommendation when it comes to adjusting to daylight savings, whether it’s fall or spring.

Taking a more gradual approach can help deter over- and under-tiredness that can accompany a more drastic schedule change.

A gradual approach works well with many younger babies who are more sensitive to changes to their schedule, likely due to their personality or the length of their average wake window. It also helps if you’re home to make the tweaks to the schedule and have a bit more flexibility in that way, as opposed to your child being in daycare.

Okay, so now that we’ve established the benefits of the gradual adjustment to the time change, let’s get into how to do it in the fall.

Start about a week prior to the time change. Since it’s fall and we are gaining an hour, you will start by adding 15 minutes to your baby’s regular schedule for about 3-4 days. Using the same sample schedule as above – wake at 7:00 a.m., nap at 12:00 p.m., and bedtime at 7:00 p.m. – you’d shift by 15 minutes every 3-4 days.

Days 1-3: wake/get out of bed at 7:15 a.m., nap at 12:15 p.m., bedtime at 7:15 p.m.

Days 4-6: wake/get out of bed at 7:30 a.m., nap at 12:30 p.m., bedtime at 7:30 p.m.

DAY 7 (the day of the time change) – day 10: wake/get out of bed at 6:45 a.m., nap at 11:45 a.m., bedtime at 6:45 p.m.

Day 11 and beyond (BACK TO REGULAR SCHEDULE): wake/get out of bed at 7:00 a.m., nap at 12:00 p.m., and bedtime at 7:00 p.m.

This same concept applies whether your baby is on a one-, two-, or even a three-nap schedule…simply shift everything by 15 minutes each day according to what it “feels like” for your baby.

After a few weeks, you should be good to go!

If your baby is younger than 5-6 months and is taking more naps than 3 in a day, you’ll just want to adjust bedtime accordingly based on the last nap of the day. Continue to shoot for bedtime between 6:00-8:00 p.m., with “morning” somewhere between 6:00-8:00 a.m., roughly 11-12 hours from when your little one went to bed the night before.

If you have a newborn, you probably don’t have much sense of time right now anyway (neither does your baby, so no need to worry)…and I’ve got a guide for that! Check it out here.

Daylight Savings seems scarier than it is, but for already-tired kids and parents, it can be a rough transition. If you think you’ll need a little extra help navigating this change, I do offer a 30-minute Mini Sleep Consult where you can ask me anything! Learn more here.

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