Mastering Daylight Savings Time: A Parent’s Guide to “Falling Back”


An alarm clock with orange leaves on either side and a sign that says "fall back"And just like that, Daylight Savings Time is upon us again…

As a mom of early-rising children, I personally dread this time change. In my pre-children days, I loved this time change – it gave me an extra hour to sleep or laze about in bed.

But now, when the clocks “fall back,” instead of getting that extra hour of blissful sleep, many of us are up even earlier thanks to the havoc Daylight Savings Time can wreak on our children’s sleep schedule. 

Most children are naturally early risers, so this means that your child will potentially wake up an hour earlier every morning until they adjust to the new schedule and time change. This can be a potential nightmare for anyone with children who rise earlier than we would like.

However, for families with kids who sleep too long and have to be woken up for school, this time change could work out in your favor.

These days, with three kids under the age of six, I have learned that the best option for our family is to go with the flow and be flexible. The kids typically adjust to their old schedule within a few days (and I mentally prepare myself for a couple of earlier mornings than I would like). Knowing that some kids (and parents!) have a harder time with this adjustment, I’m sharing a few tips to make this transition a little easier. 

Here are a few options to help tackle the “fall back” time change:

Option #1: Stay the course

If your child sleeps well and is flexible, or even if they are a late sleeper, stay on their existing schedule after the time change. If your child goes to bed at 7pm like clockwork, you may have to stretch them a bit the first few nights to get to the new 7pm. Your child should adjust to the new schedule within a few days.

This is also a good option if you have a child you would like to wake up earlier in the morning.

Option #2: Slow and Steady

If your child sleeps well, but is not flexible or already wakes too early, begin pushing their entire schedule, including eating times, by 10 minutes each day. Begin doing this for the seven days leading up to the time change. 

For example, if your child wakes at 6am, on Monday, 10/30, you will not get them out of bed until 6:10am. The following day, at 6:20 am, and so on until you reach 7 am on Saturday, the day before the time change. Then, on Sunday, they will wake at the new 6am (previously 7am).

The benefit of making the change gradually is that, hopefully, your child will adjust to the new schedule without any significant impact on their sleep.

Option #3: Meet in the Middle

This is a good strategy for parents who don’t have the time or patience for a gradual change.

In the three days leading up to the time change, move your child’s entire schedule by 30 minutes. This means that when the time change happens, you only have a 30-minute difference to work through, and hopefully, your child should adjust to their original schedule in a week or so.

Sleep Tips

The sun helps us to adjust our internal clocks, so getting outside in the early morning hours that week after the time change can also help your child adjust.

Ensure your child’s sleep environment is dark…10/10 dark. This is incredibly important for sleep at all times. If your child needs a nightlight, ensure it is warm; red tones are preferred. Stay away from white and blue lights.

While the time change may bring a few early mornings, it’s a temporary adjustment that can lead to a more consistent schedule in the long run.

So, with some planning and a little patience, you can help your children transition smoothly into Daylight Savings Time while maintaining healthy sleep patterns for the entire family.

A happy baby standing in his crib in the early morning.

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Sarah Walton
Sarah is a Coastguard wife and moved to Pensacola from Charleston, SC in the summer of 2022. She's a mother to 4 little ones - 5 year old twin boys, 3 year old daughter, and their new Frenchie puppy, Lucy. She is a certified child sleep consultant with Bella Luna Family and is currently in school to become a certified child behavior consultant. Sarah's sleep journey began 5 years ago, when her boys were 5 months old and only sleeping one hour at a time. She reached out to a twin mom sleep consultant and it changed her life, setting her on the path to help others in the same way. She works with families all over world to help them to be happy, healthy and well-rested. When she is not working with families to be well rested, she enjoys quality time at home with her family, losing herself in a good book, baking, Peloton and trying to keep her plants alive.


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