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Navigating the Time Change

If you’re feeling the anxiety creep in when you begin to think about daylight savings, take a deep breath- I’m here to help! In this blog, I’d love to share three options you can choose from when approaching the time change. There will likely be an option that will work well for you and your family!

I will cover the following three options:

  1. The cold turkey approach

  2. Split the difference

  3. Gentle- 10-15 minute shift

Cold Turkey

The first strategy is an easy one: you do nothing. This approach is otherwise known as “cold turkey.” The cold turkey approach is the most common way to go about the time change, as most families forget about the time change altogether. Not to mention, this is how most of us handle the time change for our own sleep schedule.

The cold turkey approach is great for older children or children who are less sensitive to changes in their sleep schedule. Their body will “feel” the change in time. However, your child should be back on track within about a week. Older children have greater comprehension around time, which will help them understand what is happening. A simple conversation with an older child explaining that their body may feel funny for a few days can be helpful.

On the flip side, this approach can work well for younger babies who do not follow a set schedule. If your baby currently follows awake times (i.e. 0-6 months), continue with age-appropriate awake times, and remember to shift bedtime earlier for a few days following the time change.

Split the Difference

The second way to approach Daylight Savings is to “split the difference.” You can begin this approach on Sunday, November 3rd, 2024. Splitting the difference can help children adjust to the time change if they are more sensitive to changes in their routine and sleep schedule.

An example is a child who takes one nap at 12:30 pm and goes to bed at 7 pm. For the first three days, put him down at noon (which will feel like 1 pm to him). On days 4+, you will then adjust the nap to the desired time of 12:30 pm. The benefit of using this approach is that your child’s body will adapt, and the change won’t shock their system. 

For bedtime, you will split the difference as well. The first three nights, put your child to bed at 6:30 pm (which will feel like 7:30 pm). On days 4+, you will adjust bedtime to the desired time of 7 pm. 

Remember that if your child is normally awake at 7 am, their body will be awake at 6 am for the first while. If you use a toddler clock (i.e. The Hatch or Gro Clock), set the wake-up time 10-15 minutes later each day or two to push out their wake until you reach the desired wake-up time.

Gradual Shift- 10 Minute Shift

The third and final approach is helpful for children who are more sensitive to sleep routine changes. Currently, this is my favourite approach for children who are on a set nap schedule. This approach is easy on their body and relatively easy to implement before the time change happens. I will explain this starting seven days before Daylight Savings.

Starting Tuesday, October 29th, 2024, you will shift your child’s bedtime to 10 minutes later. As you move through the week, you continue to adjust bedtime to 10 minutes later each day. Remember to push out the morning wake-up time by 10 minutes. As you approach Sunday, November 3rd (2024), your child will be in bed significantly later than usual. Pushing bedtime later each day will work in your favour as once you reach November 3rd when we “fall back” one hour, your child’s body will already be adjusted!

The Takeaway

Daylight savings can be tough on everyone’s body. There is no “right” approach to take; the best approach is the one you feel least overwhelmed with (even if this means you “do nothing”)

My biggest tip for you is to wake up at your normal time on Sunday, November 3rd, 2024, drink coffee, and THEN change your clocks! In my own family, this helps to set a positive tone for the day, and let’s face it, I’m a better human when I have a cup of coffee!


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