With the time change fast approaching, you are probably wondering…should I prepare now, or just wing it? Personally, I am a planner, and I know many of you mamas are too! The time change is easy for some families and not so much for others, it all depend on your littles ones schedule and how they adapt to changes in routine.
1. Start shifting your schedule (yes naps too!)
This can go one of two ways I will break it down by nap schedule:
1. If your little one naps 2-3 times per day plan 1-2 weeks in advance for a slow gentle shift. I recommend pushing naps by 10-15 minutes per day, every 2 days. If you opt for the 2 week shift, this will make for a very gentle transition and you will avoid an over tired baby. For example if you are currently waking at 7am, napping at 9, and 2 bedtime at 7, you would just add 10-15 minutes onto those times. Go slow. If you try to add 10 minutes each day, by day 3 you will have an overtired baby. So for this age group, I would give a couple days between pushing sleep times.
2. If your baby (toddler) is on one nap per day, and your naps are based on daycare schedule, this option is for you. Weekend adjustment. You can do this either the weekend prior, or try a couple weekends in advance. You would aim for pushing nap and bedtime by 20-30 minutes each day. If you do not have control over naps, then pushing bedtime will still be helpful! Generally, little ones on the one nap per day schedule are used to longer wake windows, so they tolerate the time change a bit better!
2. Fresh air & Snacks
My number one tip for helping parents extend wake windows is fresh air, and better yet, a snack out in the fresh air! Apples are great, any kind of fruit that they can easily eat will help get them through, and fresh air is good for the soul, always!
Another tip that I like to use for extending the middle wake window in babies who are still napping 2 (or 3) times per day is to add in a mid day bath. That sensory play and relaxation from the warm water will also help with nap success!
3. Early rising may still happen..
And that’s OK!! As a seasoned mama who has prepared for time change, and also completely forgot about it until I realized my microwave and phone aren’t the same time…it will be ok! Either during the transition, or after the time change, you might still see your little one waking at the same time (or earlier, just to spice it up).
If you have put in the work to shift the schedule ahead of time, an early rise will be temporary. Should be back on track in a couple days!
If you are just winging it, the early rising will also be temporary. If you wait until the time change happens to shift the schedule, you can expect a week or two of disruption, but it won’t last!
4. Environmental factors
Try to ensure your little ones room is conducive to sleep. If you typically use a night light, try to partially cover it (sometimes I move a book shelf or a teddy in front of it) or make the room a bit darker if possible. (If you are in Canada, you likely won’t have a problem finding darkness!) When you are battling early rising, even a tiny bit of light can hinder melatonin production. So temporarily, you may want to make the room a bit darker. If you do not use white noise, consider trying to add some white noise to help keep the sleep environment consistent.
If you are in sunnier climates, consider adding black out blinds if needed, and again making sure night light is minimal during the week or two transition.
5. Don’t stress mama!
Biggest takeaway here, it will all be OK! Sometimes you plan ahead, and they STILL like to wake up early, just ask my middle son! I recommend trying to increase your sleep prior to the sleep change as well. It never hurts to catch a few more zzz’s…but it can really help if you run into a few challenging days.
It’s normal for some children to easily adjust, and some to take longer, just like adults, we all handle it differently. If you feel that your child is sensitive to changes in routine, I would recommend trying to make some changes prior to the clocks falling ahead.
ps…this time change usually goes much better then the spring one! Fingers crossed this is our last time change!