On Sunday, March 12th many of us will be turning our clocks forward one hour. I always loved turning our clocks *back* in the fall because it meant one hour of sleep, but once I had a child I soon realized that time changes aren’t as simple with children. Falling back an hour usually means a very early wake time for children. But what about springing forward an hour? This change in time can actually be quite useful for little ones who are early rising. We can essentially use the clocks moving forward to move our child’s morning wake time an hour later. When it comes to springing forward there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and your little one for the time change.
Do nothing. This is the best option for a family who does have a child waking very early in the morning. You’d literally do nothing and just keep things the same. When the time changes, if your baby normally wakes up at 5 am they will now wake up at 6 am. You’d then follow your same routine (wake windows, meal times, feedings, etc) for the day which will now be an hour later. This means that bedtime will also be an hour later. It’s important not to get back to your previous bedtime because this can then lead to the earlier rise. Some children have very strong internal clocks and this change may be short lived, but for other children this is the perfect time to move their morning wake time.
This is also a great option for a family who doesn’t have a set schedule in the morning due to work and/or school and is able to just go with the flow.
Wake your baby at the new time. If your little one normally wakes up at 7 am, you’d wake them at 7 am on Monday morning (which will actually be 6 am to their internal clock). This is ideal for a child who is low sleep needs, and you fear that the later wake time will push their whole day too late with naps and bedtime. This can be the case for little ones who are very close to a nap transition (ie: 2 to 1 or 3 to 2 but they still need that last nap). Similarly, if you have a low sleep needs child who is on one nap you may want to opt for the early morning wake time in order to make sure that bedtime doesn’t get pushed later than you would like it to be.
Adjust time in small increments. This is a great option for sensitive children who have a hard time with changes in their routine. What you would do is gradually move their wake time earlier in 15 minute increments every few days. So, if your child normally wakes at 7 am you’d wake them at 6:45 am the first day and then move to 6:30 am and so on, until you are at 6:00 am which will actually be 7 am with the time change. You can do this leading up to the time change or you can do it after. It is important to adjust their whole routine when you are making this change (ie: feedings, meal times if they are on solids, etc.).
Ultimately, it is all about doing what works for your unique family. I choose to do nothing with both time changes and just let Lilah’s body adjust naturally. This is because our life is flexible. We don’t have anywhere to be in the mornings and we can go with the flow. You know your baby best, so it is up to you to do what you think will be best for your family!