Fall back tips for surviving the daylight saving change

Fall back tips for surviving the daylight saving change

Daylight saving ends each autumn and it can really help to have some fall back tips for surviving the daylight saving change. And while gaining an hour is much more acceptable than losing one, it can be just as frustrating as a parent because it’s another adjustment that doesn’t happen easily (and you STILL miss out on that much needed sleep in).

Children tend to be more structured in their bedtime, and wake up around the same time each morning which is why you usually see a greater effect on children when there’s a time change.  It’s annoying, but there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little more smoothly.


My first recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!

For children

My best advice to help older children with the time change is to halve the difference between the old time and the new time. How does that work?  Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7:00pm. I recommend putting your child to bed at 6:30pm for the first THREE days following the time change (this will FEEL like 7:30pm to your child.) On the FOURTH night, put him to bed at 7:00pm. A 30-minute change is a lot easier on the body than an hour!

For older babies / toddlers

On the FIRST day of the time change (Sunday), you would put your child down for his first nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if he usually naps at 09:30am, you would put him down at 09:00am new time (this will feel like 10:00am to your child). You would do the same with the afternoon nap (30 minutes earlier than usual, which will FEEL like 30 minutes later).

For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00pm, you would put him down at 6:30pm. Do this for THREE nights after the time change and then on the FOURTH night, put him to bed at 7:00pm. On the FIFTH day move naptimes back to normal time also.

For Infants

If you have a baby who gets overtired easily, and his bedtime has become predictable (usually over 6 months old), you want to change the time increments by only 15 minutes a day to reduce the chance of overtiredness.

Have naps as usual according to your child’s tired signs (which will be around an hour earlier than usual on the new time if they got up as usual). Then increase bedtime by 15 minutes a day.

For example, if bedtime is normally 7:00pm (now 6:00pm) move bedtime 15 minutes later each night until you reach the normal new time. So the first night you would put him down at 6:15pm new time (feels like 7.15pm old time), the second night 6:30pm new time, and so on.

In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm.

For younger infants/newborns

If your child’s bedtime is not always predictable (generally 0- 6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night and carry on as usual. That is, continue to use their time awake to gauge naptimes and bedtime and put them down for sleep accordingly.


Older toddlers

If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in their room and put a piece of tape over the minutes. This way they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes (minutes will often confuse toddlers).

Talk to your child about the “magic 7” (the time they’re allowed up) and have a picture of a 7 taped to the clock so they can see when it matches. Your child can get up when the “magic 7” appears. This uses the same principal as a sleep training clock, but it’s cheaper and eventually helps them learn their numbers (win-win).

Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30am it says 7:00am and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that by the end of the week (when you correct the time), they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time.


If you are dealing with a baby, the trick is to not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6:00am is okay now. So if she normally wakes at 7:00am, but is now up at 6:00am, you will wait until 6:10am to get her up after the first day, and then 6:20am the next day, then 6:30am the next  and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.

Most people take at least a week to adjust to a time difference with an extra hour, so hang on in there. It won’t take long.


Autumn’s daylight saving change isn’t always a bad thing. If you have children you need to wake up in the morning (and they cannot tell time yet or you can get away with it), it’s the perfect opportunity to get them into bed an hour earlier – at the same time their body clock is use to.

That is, if they’re normally going to bed at 8:00pm – put them to bed at 7:00pm new time (feels like 8:00pm old time). That way you have more time in the evening to yourself AND they’ll wake up earlier in the morning (hopefully avoiding that morning rush). Bonus!

If you have any questions about daylight saving or sleep – please ask!

If you need a little more help with sleep in your family, make sure you download my 5 tips to help your baby or toddler sleep through the night. You can also book my free 15-minute initial phone call. Alternatively you can message me through Facebook or email me (kim@cherishedsleep.co.nz).

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Sleep well!