It’s that time again….
Happy November, everyone! November is my birthday month and I’m turning the BIG 30 this year so I’m taking it upon myself to celebrate all month long (insert eye roll from my hubby). This time of year is always a bit crazy for my family – we have five other November birthdays and of course now I’ve come to terms with the fact that Christmas is only 55 days away 😲 There’s also a bit of a time change in there. So, today I’m sharing my time change tips for toddlers.
November 4th is also when daylight savings time ends and we have a significant time change, moving the clocks back an hour. I remember in my college days being thrilled with this “extra hour” of sleep but now that I’m a parent, I’m not so thrilled, as I’m sure many of you can relate to.
The adjustment to the time change doesn’t usually come immediately and that’s why it’s dreaded by so many parents. Children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning. The effects are much more profound because of the structured sleep many children have. Here are my best time change tips for toddlers:
So what is the best way to handle it?
There are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time a little smoother.
First, my recommendation to parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
Children: My best advice for children is to “split the difference” with the old time and the new time. How does this work? Let’s just say your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30 am. Starting Sunday, you will adjust this to 9:00 am for the three days after the time change (this used to be 10 am). It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to his or her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap(s). On the fourth day, move nap time back to the normal time.
For bedtime, if your child usually goes to bed at 7 :00 p.m. I recommend putting them to bed at 6:30 p.m. for the first three days following the time change (this will feel like 7:30 pm to your child). On the fourth night, move bedtime back to normal. It will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this.
Toddlers: If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 am it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wake-up time. The Ok To Wake clock is also a great investment for toddlers.
Infants: If you have a baby and his bedtime has become predictable (usually between 4-6 months old), meaning he is always going to bed around the same time every night, this will need to be a more gradual change. Try moving bedtime and naps in 15 minute increments, until you reach the new time. Follow this rule for bedtime as well.
If your baby’s bedtime is still not predictable, simply jump to the new time, as if you were traveling to a new time zone.
As for those pesky early morning wake-ups with the new time, you should try to not rush in as soon as baby wakes and instead, wait 10 minutes. Increase this time every morning by 10 minutes and by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual time.
Be patient and consistent with your child. Time changes effect children and adults alike and take about a week to adjust to, although some children may take up to a month.
I really hope this helps! Remember these time change tips for toddlers, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help. Honestly, try not to stress too much about the time change. Hang in there!