You may be wondering why we make any fuss at all over the end of daylight saving time. It happens every year, after all…what’s the big deal
The big deal is this: your baby’s internal clock won’t change along with your household clocks. And while we adults can process the time change and stay in bed until our normal wake-up time even after we “fall back”, your baby or young toddler can’t do this. You can bet that if your baby usually wakes at a certain time (say, 7:00 a.m.), she’ll wake about an hour earlier than normal after the time change (closer to 6:00 a.m., in this case). That’s due to the fact that 6:00 feels like 7:00 to your child – because it WAS 7:00 just a day ago!
This is the main reason why “falling back” causes so many problems for parents. The end of daylight saving time causes most children to wake earlier than usual, and that in turn throws off naps and bedtime, and this turns into a relentless cycle of overtired crankiness from which it can feel very difficult to escape.
To prevent the time change from destroying your family’s sleep, you can work to adjust your baby’s schedule forward gradually, until she’s close to waking about an hour later than usual. Move the schedule (wake-up, naps, and bedtime) forward by 15 minutes every day or two. For example, if your baby usually goes to bed at 6:30 p.m, start putting her to bed at 6:45 p.m, followed by modified wake up, meals/snacks, and naptime the next day. Continue to move bedtime later by 15 minutes each day so that bedtime will be one hour later by Saturday night and you're ready for the "new time".
Making this shift gradually, works well for most babies, but some parents prefer to ‘split the difference’ to avoid having any schedule drama, like crankiness or overtiredness. To split the difference, you would work towards shifting the schedule back by 30 minutes.
So, let’s say your child is going to bed around 7:30 pm the week before. When the time change occurs, it will be 6:30 pm their body time. Do not put them down at 6:30 pm that night, put them down to bed at 7:00 pm which will be 8:00pm their time. They will be awake for an extra half hour. Do the same for their afternoon nap on Monday. Do this for 3 nights. Then the on the fourth night, move to their new bedtime. On the fifth day, move them to their new nap time.
Hold them to the 6 am wake up and be patient and you will get there!