Daylight Savings and Baby Sleep
Doesn’t it feel like we just went through a time change? The two time changes are spring forward or fall back. It’s that time of the year again, it’s time to Spring forward! Daylight savings time begins on March 13, 2022. While we all enjoy that extra hour of daylight in the evening, for those of us with small children, this time change can be a bit tricky as we lose an hour of sleep. Suddenly 6pm becomes 7pm and our kiddos can have a hard time adjusting to an “hour earlier” bedtime, yet we don’t want to keep them up too late and start a cycle of overtiredness.
This small time shift can cause disruptions in your baby or toddler’s nap schedule or sleep schedule and overall cause an overtired baby. Luckily, I’ve got some tips and tricks to help you! With a little preparation and a sleep strategy in your back pocket we can help adjust your baby to the time change with little to no disruption to their sleep patterns!
Daylight Savings and Baby Sleep
Even though the time is only changing by one hour (similar to how we’re affected by jet lag) that one hour can cause a disruption in your baby’s circadian rhythm for a few days. Lucky for us parents though, this time change isn’t quite as disruptive on sleep as the fall time change is. Most kids will adjust fairly easily and quickly and it will be easy to put your baby to bed, but there are a few things you can do to prepare them in the week or so leading up to daylight savings time beginning.
Daylight Savings Time Tips for Parents
1. “Spring Forward” Your Schedule
If your child is an early riser and wakes up at 6am, for example, on Sunday morning (March 13th) let them sleep until they wake up (around 7am or so according to their typical schedule) and then begin your day from there. It may seem like an extra hour of sleep in the morning, but if they are not super sensitive to time changes, you will be able to go on about your day and follow their schedule as usual and after a few days they’ll be on track with the new schedule.
2. Adjust Slowly
The week before the time change starts, begin adjusting your child’s schedule by 10 minutes each day. Start each morning with waking them up 10 minutes earlier than normal and put them to bed 10 minutes earlier. By Sunday morning, your baby’s sleep schedule will be where it was and your baby’s body clock will have adjusted as well!
3. Adjust Over the Weekend
On Sunday morning after DST kicks in, wake your baby up 30 minutes earlier than normal. If your baby normally wakes up at 6am, the time on the clock will look like 6:30 (5:30 old time). Upon waking your baby, keep in mind you’ll want to start their nap 30 minutes earlier than normal and put them to bed 30 minutes earlier as well. This will help prevent them from getting overtired. On Monday morning, resume your usual schedule and after a few days your baby will get the hang of it.
4. Keep it Dark (or Light)
Whichever method you choose, a huge tip that will help you is to keep your baby’s room dark with black out shades since it will stay light later and keep their room light in the morning. Open those curtains and let the sunshine in! This will help signal their bodies that it’s morning and wake up time! The black out shades at night will help signal to their body that it’s dark (even if it’s still light out) and they’ll have an easier time falling asleep.
5. Bedtime Routine
This is KEY!! Stick to your normal bedtime routine. Your child’s sleep times will regulate with time. Even if it’s bright and sunny outside at bedtime, close up those curtains and follow their routine as you normally would. Bedtime routines are vital to your baby’s sleep and helping them wind down for bed.
Patience, Patience, Patience! – Give your child and yourself some grace! If they need an extra nap or an early bedtime, go with the flow and follow their cues! They will eventually adjust to the time change and their sleep will get back to normal. If your child is having trouble sleeping and having a hard time adjusting, I’m here to help! Perhaps you’re dealing with a sleep regression on top of daylight savings time, maybe it’s early morning wakeups that didn’t get better after the time change, or overnight wakings that aren’t getting better. Please reach out and let’s figure out what’s going on!! As a certified pediatric sleep consultant I help to understand your child’s sleep needs and come up with a custom solution that works for your entire family.