Fall Back! How to Change Your Kids' Sleep Schedules with Ease

Dad holding daughter toddler

This Sunday, November 5 (2:00 a.m. to be precise) marks the end of daylight saving time, when darker evenings and lighter mornings define the rhythm of our daily family lives.

We adults can manage the time change relatively easily—but younger children often need more time to adjust, especially when it comes to their sleep schedules. (Not surprisingly, kids accustomed to waking up at 6:00 a.m. may pop awake at 5:00 a.m. this weekend.) Here are ways you can help your toddler “fall back” a little easier.

Slowly change their bed time.

Many experts recommend gradually adjusting a young child’s schedule before the time change hits. Several days or even a week before you turn back the clocks, try putting your child to bed about 15 minutes later each night, or every couple of nights, to minimize the abruptness of the change. You should also allow him to sleep 15 minutes later (if they can).

Adjust meal times and nap times, too.

If your family keeps a structured routine, apply the change to meal times and nap times, too. If your meal time is 6:00, you’ll want to start at 6:15. The idea is to gradually set the whole day a bit later.

Prepare for that morning light.

Get ready for those brighter mornings, when light will stream through the windows earlier than usual. To get your kids to sleep through it, this is the time to hang black-out curtains or other light blockers that keep the sun from shining right on your little one’s eyes before you’re ready.

Get some extra sun during the day.

Losing daylight can affect many people’s energy level and mood—and the impact can be even more pronounced in young children. (Light tells the brain to stop producing the sleep-inducing melatonin.) If you can, get them outside early and stay active as much as you can during the day.

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