Twice a year, parents dread preparing their children for daylight saving time. And that’s understandable! Not only do babies, toddler, and big kids—and their caregivers—thrive on routine, anything that rattles a child’s normal day/night (Circadian) rhythm can lead to sudden sleep problems… including moving the clocks forward or back. But the reality is, whether you plan ahead to smooth out the time change, or not, you will get through this small bump in the road to Sleepytown. Here’s my best advice for navigating the challenge of daylight saving with kids.

How to Transition Your Child’s Sleep Schedule for Daylight Saving Time

Baby steps are key to making “spring forward” and “fall back” easier on you and your child. And the best way to do that is to start gradually shifting your child’s bedtime over in the three to four nights before you  change the clocks. Here’s how to do it:

Do a 15-minute rewind or fast forward. Every evening—for the four or so evenings leading up to daylight saving time—shift dinner and bedtime 15 minutes earlier if in spring, and 15 minutes later if in fall. Four nights tends to work well for most children, but your child may only need two nights, depending on your baby or toddler’s temperament.

Dim the lights. Lowering the lights in your home by 50 to 75% about 45 minutes to an hour before bedtime helps start the release of the wonderful melatonin (aka the blessed sleep hormone). If it’s still light out when your child’s wind-down routine is set to start, consider using blackout shades to keep their room dark. To further set the stage for sleep and help with melatonin release, it’s important to shut off all screens at least 45 minutes before lights out, too. TVs, computers, tablets, and more give off a lot of blue light, which blocks the release of melatonin. (Lean more about how light—and dark—impacts sleep.)

Stick to your go-to sleep cues. Already having a bedtime routine in place—with strong, well-practiced sleep cues—will make this daylight saving transition much easier! Every step in your bedtime routine—from brushing teeth, to reading books, snuggling with SNOObear, practicing “Bedtime Sweet-Talk,” to pressing “play” on some low, rumbly white noise—can help cue your child’s brain that it’s time for beddy-bye.

Use an OK-to-wake clock! OK-to-wake clocks can be a great sleepytime tool to gently ease little ones into a time change. For example, SNOObie Smart Soother allows caregivers to use light and sound to help cue your tot that it is time to settle down and prepare for sleep…and when it is time to rise and shine. Here are some SNOObie tips daylight saving time:

  • Set your bedtime routines for 15 minutes earlier (following the schedule mentioned above). Choose from 12 specially designed sleep and soothing tracks, including classic lullabies, beloved SNOO sounds, and more. (You can program up to four routines at a time.)

  • Before bed, set SNOObie’s nightlight to a dim but warm color, like red or orange, which encourages the natural release of melatonin, the brain’s sleepytime hormone.

  • For little ones who need help understanding when it’s okay to get out of bed, use SNOObie as an OK-to-wake clock. Set SNOObie to change its color to green and to play a specific sound in the morning to give your little one the signal that they can pop out and start the day. This can be super-helpful during a trip of confusing daylight saving time…especially for kiddos who are too young to read a clock. (Learn more about how to use OK-to-wake clocks.)

Daylight Saving Time: How to “Fall Back” With Kids

If your child’s bedtime is normally at 8pm, four nights before daylight saving time, push it forward 15 minutes to 8:15pm. Then, the next night, move it 15 minutes later again to 8:30pm. The evening of daylight saving time (Saturday), bedtime will be at 8:45pm. Then on Sunday night, after you’ve turned the clocks back, your kiddo will be back to the usual 8pm bedtime. And of course, as you’re delaying bedtime by 15 minutes, you’ll also want to schedule dinnertime for a little later, as well. 

While daylight saving time—and the sleep struggles it can bring—is something many parents dread, with a little bit of planning, the whole family can get the precious ZZZs they need!

Example “Fall Back” Schedule for an 8pm Bedtime:

Wednesday           →    8:00pm bedtime

Thursday               →     8:15pm bedtime

Friday                    →     8:30pm bedtime

Saturday               →     8:45pm bedtime

*** move clocks back 1 hour ***

Sunday                 →     8:00pm bedtime

More detailed “Fall Back” Schedule for an 8pm Bedtime:


Dinner:  6:00pm       

Wind-down: 7:15pm                     

Bedtime: 8:00pm


Dinner: 6:15pm

Wind-down: 7:30pm

Bedtime: 8:15pm


Dinner: 6:30pm                

Wind-down: 7:45pm                          

Bedtime: 8:30pm


Dinner: 6:45pm                

Wind-down: 8:00pm                          

Bedtime: 8:45pm

*** move clocks back 1 hour *** 


Dinner: 6:00pm               

Wind-down: 7:15pm

Bedtime: 8:00pm

Daylight Saving Time: Fall Back Sleep Schedule

Daylight Saving Time: How to “Spring Forward” With Kids

If your child’s bedtime is normally at 8pm, four nights before daylight saving time, move bedtime 15 minutes earlier to 7:45pm. The next night, shift bedtime again, this time to 7:30pm. The day of daylight saving time (Saturday) bedtime will be at 7:15pm. Sunday night, after the clock springs forward, your child will be back to an 8pm bedtime. As you inch bedtime earlier and earlier, you’ll also want to move dinnertime up 15 minutes each night, too.

Example “Spring Forward” Schedule for an 8pm Bedtime:

Wednesday               →       8:00pm bedtime

Thursday                   →       7:45pm bedtime

Friday                        →       7:30pm bedtime

Saturday                    →       7:15pm bedtime

*** move clocks ahead 1 hour ***

Sunday                      →        8:00pm bedtime

More detailed “Spring Forward” Schedule for an 8pm Bedtime:


Dinner: 6:00pm         

Wind-down: 7:15pm

Bedtime: 8:00pm


Dinner: 5:45pm

Wind-down: 7:00pm

Bedtime: 7:45pm


Dinner: 5:30pm

Wind-down: 6:45pm

Bedtime: 7:30pm


Dinner: 5:15pm

Wind-down: 6:30pm

Bedtime: 7:15pm

*** move clocks ahead 1 hour ***


Dinner: 6:00pm

Wind-down: 7:15pm

Bedtime: 8:00pm 

Spring Forward Daylight Saving Sleep Schedule

What to Do If You Forgot to Prepare for Daylight Saving

If you completely forgot about daylight saving—or simply did not have the time or energy to prepare, don’t worry—you can decide to make daylight saving time happen a day or so later. Simply do the gradual steps of shifting your child’s bedtime after the rest of the world has done their change. (If your child has an easy going temperament, two days of 30-minute routine shifts can often be just the thing to help them adjust.)

Finally, whether you’ve got a baby or a big kid, take them outdoors for some quality outside time in the morning…and stay out and have fun as long as you can! (This also helps reduce jet leg when traveling). That’s because:

  • Toddlers and older children burn lots of energy when they are outside. As you can imagine, that can help them sleep better in the evening.

  • Exposure to morning sunlight lowers the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which helps reset a child’s internal clock, so they have an easier time going to bed at the new, right time.

Is it okay to let my child sleep in when we change the clocks?

It’s not the worst thing in the world, but if you can, it’s best to resist the urge to let the house sleep in. While it's emotionally hard for us to wake a sleeping child, it will help make sure that they’re good and tired to go night-night at their normal bedtime.

Final Thoughts on Daylight Saving

Even though your child’s bedtime will shift as you approach daylight saving time, it’s very important to stay consistent with your little one’s actual bedtime routine. (Don’t plow through and skip steps!) Remember, every step in your kiddo’s normal nighty-night pattern—from brushing teeth, to reading books, to playing some sleep-inducing low, rumbly white noise—helps cue their brain that it’s time for sweet dreams. And know that, for most kids—and grownups—it usually takes about a week to fully adjust to the new time.

More Sleep Tips:

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.