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How to manage Daylight Savings

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Ahhhh daylight savings – every time the clocks are due to change I am inundated with queries around how to manage the shift in nap and bedtimes. Whether we are losing an hour or gaining an hour there are a number of things to be weary of, so that we can best support our little people and manage their routines accordingly.

Our little one’s biological clocks are regulated by food, social interaction and light. This means that their internal alarms are set by the time we get them out of bed, expose them to a change in light and offer food each day. The aim of the game is to slowly change each of these external factors in slow increments so that we give their body clocks time to adjust so when the clocks change it’s not such a shock to their system – or our day start!

Daylight savings happens twice a year at 2am on the first Sunday in April (where we gain an hour, so the clocks fall back - think Autumn leaves falling) and again at 2am on the last Sunday in September (where our clocks go forward - think in Spring the clocks spring forward and we lose an hour).

Note: Daylight savings is not observed in Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australian, Christmas Island or Keeling Islands.

So what are the different approaches to daylight savings?

  • Pro-active approach (organised and prepared)

If you’re anything like me you’re an organised freak who quite likes to know what’s coming, what to expect and how to managed it (hello type A personality). The pro-active approach is anticipating the change in the clocks. So if the clocks are going back an hour this means that when they change 7am becomes 6am. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer not to start my day that early so we want to support our little one’s and their bodies clocks in the week leading up to the clocks changing.

The 6 days before the clocks change push everything back 10 minutes each day. This includes day start time, meals, naps and bedtime timing. So it might look something like this;

Monday - 7:00am wake, 9:30am nap, 12:30pm nap, 7:00pm bedtime

Tuesday - 7:10am wake, 9:40am nap, 12:40pm nap, 7:10pm bedtime

Wednesday - 7:20am wake, 9:50am nap, 12:50pm nap, 7:20pm bedtime

Thursday - 7:30am wake, 10:00am nap, 1:00pm nap, 7:30pm bedtime

Friday - 7:40am wake, 10:10am nap, 1:10pm nap, 7:40pm bedtime

Saturday - 7:50am wake, 10:20am nap, 1:20pm nap, 7:50pm bedtime

Sunday (clocks change early morning) - 7am wake (new time), 930am nap, 12:30pm nap, 7:00pm bedtime

You are slowly pushing out feed, nap and bedtime timings 10min per day in the week leading up to the change so once the clocks change your little one's body clock is already set on the new time.

If the clocks are springing forward (like they will be in September here in New Zealand) and you are gaining an extra hour then you would bring everything forward 10min per day (e.g start waking them earlier and offering naps/meals/bedtime earlier in the week leading up to the clocks changing)

  • Reactive approach (oops I forgot!)

Sunday morning rolls around... “good lord why are the kids up so early? Ahhhhh s**t, forgot the clocks changed”

Hello reactive approach. You will likely see some earlier starts and off routine for the first few days as you adjust to the new timing and let the change in clocks lead the way. You’re new routine might look something like this;

Sunday (clocks changed overnight)

Sunday 6am wake, 8:30am nap, 11:30am nap, 6pm bedtime

Monday 6:10am wake, 8:40am nap, 11:40am nap, 6:10pm bedtime

Tuesday 6:20am wake, 8:50am nap, 11:50am nap, 6:20pm bedtime

Wednesday 6:30am wake, 9:00am nap, 12pm nap, 6:30pm bedtime

Thursday 6:40am wake, 9:10am nap, 12:10pm nap, 6:40pm bedtime

Friday 6:50am wake, 9:20am nap, 12:20am nap, 6:50pm bedtime

Saturday 7am wake, 9:30am nap, 12:30am nap, 7pm bedtime

If the clocks are springing forward and you are gaining an extra hour then enjoy the sleep in! You would slowly wake your child 10min earlier each day and reflect their meals, naps and bedtimes 10min earlier each day to get back into their normal routine.

  • Meet in the middle (see how it goes)

You wake up on Sunday morning and push everything back 30min; breakfast time, naps, lunchtime, dinner and bedtime. Keep the 30min later sleep and mealtimes for 3 days as your child’s body clock adjusts then add in the extra 30min from day 4. After 1 week they will be into the swing of things with the new time.

If you have a child that likes to sleep in or a little one who goes to be quite late this may work in your favour if you’ve been trying to get them down earlier in the evening. If you have an early riser I would recommend the proactive approach to avoid 5:30am becoming 4:30am!

Having a great routine in place will help your little one adjust easier, as we can make small changes over the period of a week. Keep consistent if you need to resettle – you’re child hasn’t all of a sudden forgotten how to settle themselves if they can do so independently so avoid introducing a new sleep association or habit you aren’t prepared to continue.

When the clocks change it will result in darker/lighter outside for bedtime and day start time. If you don’t already have some, I’d highly recommend some blackout blinds so you can control your little one’s sleep environment. If they are using a toddler clock you can also reflect the change in bedtime timings by changing their clock each day so the sun comes up supporting the shift in sleep patterns.

If you need any additional information or support please feel free to contact me at to book in a FREE 15 minute discovery call to talk about what is happening for your little one and how we can help.

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