- Jessalyn Romney is “The Sleep Fairy” on Instagram and a mom of four.
- Pushing sleep times by 10 minutes can help babies and toddlers adjust to time changes, she says.
- This is Romney’s story, as told to Kelly Burch.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jessalyn Romney. It has been edited for length and clarity.
When I was pregnant with my first child more than a decade ago, everyone told me to get ready to never sleep again. But I refused to believe I had no choice but to be sleep deprived as a mom. I knew there had to be another way.
So, I made one. My first child was sleeping for 12 hours by 12 weeks. Friends told their friends, and I spent years texting strangers about their sleep woes. I learned that I loved transforming families by helping them sleep better. I watched people go from feeling overtired and hopeless to delighting in parenting because they were getting the sleep they needed.
That’s why I became The Sleep Fairy. I’ve since developed resources to help babies and families sleep better, and started coaching families.
Every year, I see families panicked about daylight savings time. Time change can have a big impact on sleep for babies and adults. It can seem life-altering, but it doesn’t have to be. I promise there’s a super simple way to handle daylight savings time, even if you didn’t plan ahead.
Adjust your children’s sleep schedule slowly
The best way to help babies and toddlers adjust to the new time is by adjusting their sleep schedule in small increments. This lets their body adapt gently, without becoming overtired.
Ideally, this adjustment starts the Wednesday before daylight savings. Push your child’s nap time or bedtime later by just a few minutes each day. By Sunday, they’ll be sleeping right on schedule. If you didn’t plan ahead, don’t worry. Use the same method, but start on Sunday. By the end of the week, you’ll be back to a normal nap and bedtime.
For babies, push their sleep time by 10-15 minutes a day. If your child normally naps at 10 a.m., but is rubbing her eyes at 9 a.m., put her down at 9:10. The next day, do 9:20, until you’ve adjusted back to the 10 o’clock nap.
Toddlers and older kids can adjust their sleep by up to 30 minutes without getting overtired. That means this will be a shorter process for them.
Don’t forget about your own sleep
Anytime your child goes through a sleep transition, there will be hiccups. And you, as a parent, will need extra sleep to deal with them. So, don’t forget to prioritize your own shuteye this weekend.
Adults don’t need to be formal about it — just follow your body’s cues. If you normally go to bed at 9 p.m., and now you’re tired at 8, don’t hesitate to climb into bed early. If you stay up just for the sake of it, you’ll wind up overtired. As a mom, I turn into a monster when I don’t get the sleep that I need.
Time change is only a one-hour adjustment, but it can take a full seven to 10 days for babies to adjust. If your transition isn’t going smoothly, don’t throw in the towel. Stick with the plan of slowly adjusting sleep times, and have faith that your little one will catch on. Babies are resilient, and they will adjust.
We just have to give them time.