Adjusting Your Child’s Schedule After the Fall Time Change

daylight savings fall 2020 - baby orange towel
Christine Brown

Christine Brown

Did you try to slowly adjusting for the Fall time change AND your little one had other ideas?

Or maybe you couldn’t even try. Or the time change wasn’t even on your radar. (been there when my boys were little!)

It’s totally ok – don’t fret! You won’t perpetually be stuck with a super early wake time. First, we are going to look at the science around the time change and schedules. Then we will guide you through adjusting your child’s schedule after the fall time change.

Sleep Science

  • On November 7th at 2:00 am the clocks fall back one hour.
  • Meaning a 7:00 am wake up is now a 6:00 am wake up.
  • We want to shift your child’s entire schedule one hour later. This will help your family to get back on the same clock schedule as before the time change.
  • Keeping a wake time that is too early will push the entire schedule too early. This result in an overtired kiddo.
  • Moving bedtime later is easy – we just keep our little ones up later
  • Moving wake time later is not so easy. Babies and toddlers don’t tend to sleep in like we do when we have a later bedtime.
  • Circadian rhythms, (aka as our internal sleep and wake clock), help keep us aligned on a 24 hour day. This helps keep our schedule fairly regular.
  • Our circadian rhythms are set by light exposure.
  • We need to reset circadian rhythms to the time change to get your little on back on their normal schedule.
  • We do this by controlling exposure to light and dark and adjusting the schedule gradually.

Here’s how to adjust your child’s schedule and circadian rhythms after the time change and move away from an earlier wake time.

Adjusting the Schedule

November 7TH

Wake up: When your little one wakes an hour earlier on November 1st, get your child up at their normal time, an hour earlier, and start the day.

Nap: If your child normally takes their first nap at 9:00 am, move it 30 minutes earlier for the first three day.  So a 9:00 am nap, will now be 8:30 am.  Because this is actually 30 minutes later than normal, it will be a little push for your little one, but it won’t destroy your schedule.  Repeat with the afternoon nap.

Bedtime: If your little one has been going to bed at 7:00 pm, put your kiddo to bed 30 minutes earlier at 6:30 pm.  This will feel like 7:30 pm for your little one.

November 8TH, 9TH & 10TH

Wake up: If (when) your little one wakes up at their normal time according to the old time, delay getting your child up until 30 minutes earlier according to the new time. 

For example, if your little one wakes at 6:00 am new time, delay getting your child up until 6:30 am.

Nap: keep nap 30 minutes earlier, same timing as November 7th.

For example: a 9:00 am nap, will now be 8:30 am. 

Bedtime: keep bedtime 30 minutes earlier like you did on November 7th.

For example: a 7:00 pm bedtime, will now be 6:30 pm.


Move your schedule to the same times as before the time change.

Wake up: if your little one wakes up earlier than their normal time, delay getting your child up until their normal time.

For example: if your little one wakes at 6:30 am, don’t get your child up for the day until 7:00 am

Nap: if your child has been napping at 8:30 and 12:30, move to your normal schedule of 9:00 and 1:00.

Bedtime: if your little one has been going to bed at 6:30 pm for the past few days, move to their normal bedtime of 7:00 pm.

Adjusting After the Fall Time Change Using Lightness & Darkness

  • Keep your child’s room pitch black in the mornings after the time change.  The darkness will tell your child’s body that it isn’t time to get up, while their schedule is adjusting to the new time. 
  • Even a little bit of light peeking in can create early morning wake ups. Bring out the black Hefty trash bags and masking tape to make it pitch black.  Here are our favorite blackout solutions.
  • After your child wakes up for the day, open all the blinds, have breakfast on the patio (weather permitting) or bring your little one outside for a walk or to play early.  The sun exposure in the early morning will aid in resetting their internal clock and will help sleepy hormone production for that night.
  • Lots of outside play and sun exposure throughout the day will help your child with sleepy hormone production.
  • Close blinds and dim lights inside the house 30 minutes before nap times and ensure your child’s room is pitch black for naps as well.
  • Keep lights bright in the evening until about 30 minutes before the new bedtime to help keep your little one awake.  Dim the lights in the entire house 30 minutes before bed to increase sleepy hormone production.

Realistically, adjusting to the new time can take 1-2 weeks for babies and toddlers and around 1 week for school-aged kiddos through adulthood.  Accepting that things will be a little off for a little while, will help with the process.  Give yourself and your child a lot of patience.  You’ll be back to your old schedule soon enough!

If you are having challenges adjusting after the Fall time change or anything else, help is available!  Sign up for a free 15-minute intro call to talk to a consultant about how we can work together to create healthy sleep habits.

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