Congratulations! You’ve finally managed to squeeze a few consecutive hours of sleep out of your baby. They’ve adopted a semi-regular sleep and bedtime routine. Life is about to get easier.
Just kidding. It’s daylight saving time!
Once upon a time, the fall time change meant a glorious extra hour of sleep. For parents with babies, toddlers, and kids, daylight saving time can be a real pain in the ass. To help prepare for the biannual clock switcheroo on Sunday, November 7th, we’ve partnered up with the fine folks at Hatch Baby to share some tips for adjusting to the time change and helping your baby transition into sweet dreams once again.
How to Help Your Baby Adjust to Daylight Saving Time
In case you’re like me and tend to forget that a change to the clocks is looming until an article like this one pops up in your social media feed, here’s your friendly reminder that our clocks will, indeed, be moving back an hour on November 7th.
What Does This Mean for Me?
Parents have a couple of options when it comes to preparing for the potential interruption to a child’s sleep schedule that daylight savings can bring.
Option A: Do Nothing
Option A is to do nothing and hope for the best. This is the route I tend to take since daylight saving time changes somehow always take me by surprise. Basically, you’ll hang onto your hat as your baby’s sleep schedule slowly adjusts to the new times. Things can be fairly rocky at the start, but I promise - they get better. There may be some hidden benefits to this method, including pushing back bedtimes for those super early sleepers. If your baby isn’t very flexible in the sleep department, this may not be your method of choice.
Option B: Make a Gradual Sleep Shift
Option B takes a more gradual approach to preparing your baby (and, let’s be honest, yourself) for the upcoming time change. If you’ve got 7 days to spare (meaning, you’re looking at this article on or before November 1st) this method might be worth a try. So, what does it look like?
Set Baby’s Bedtime and Naps Later
Starting on November 1st, push each of your baby’s naps, and their bedtime, back by 10 minutes. For example, if your baby’s first nap of the day is typically at 9 am, today it’s going to be at 9:10. If bedtime is usually at 7 pm, today it’s at 7:10. On November 2nd, you’ll push nap and bedtimes back by an additional 10 minutes. So that first nap of the day will now be at 9:20 instead of its usual 9 am time. You’ll do this over the course of 7 days to get to that full hour hop ahead, so when the time moves back, you’ll be right back where you started before this whole daylight saving thing came and threw your sleep world out of whack.
If what I’m saying here is a bit hard to process in your sleep-deprived state, don’t worry. Here's a handy chart from Hatch Baby to make things a bit more clear.
Can I Adjust Over a Longer or Shorter Period of Time?
You betcha. Taking more days to adjust means an even more gradual shift into the new routine for your little one, which is definitely great, but requires a bit more foresight on your part. Shifting things over fewer days might be a bit more of an abrupt change for your babe, but is definitely doable.
Help! Now My Baby is Going to Bed an Hour Earlier Than I Want Them To!
If you didn’t have a chance to adjust to the time change before November 1st, your baby may be having difficulty making it the extra hour until bedtime. For example, if your baby’s bedtime is typically at 7, the time change means that the clock is saying it’s only 6 pm, and they’re falling asleep at the dinner table. Although this might not seem so bad at first, an earlier bedtime can also mean an earlier wake time, and that’s something I think most parents wholeheartedly want to avoid.
If you want to gradually shift your child’s internal clock back to their normal bedtime, try pushing bedtime ahead in 15-minute increments. For example, on day 1, put them to bed at 6:15 (new time) and continue working forwards until you hit your desired bedtime.
Use Lots Of Light
It might seem like a no-brainer, but light and darkness have a huge impact on sleep. Use them to your advantage! Keep the lights nice and bright during your baby’s wake times, especially if they’re starting to nod off during their typical nap and bedtimes that you’re now pushing back a bit later. Cue sleep by dimming the lights, and making things nice and dark when it’s time to drift off. Blackout shades and a white noise machine have been a lifesaver for sleep in our baby’s room.
How Long Will It Last?
In an ideal world, your baby will be back into the swing of things over the course of a few days. That being said, you might still be experiencing the jet-lag effects of the time change for a couple of weeks. The length of time it’ll take to recover truly varies from baby to baby, but the good news is, things will settle out - more than likely before the clocks jump back forward in the spring.
Got a pro-tip that works wonders in your house when it comes to helping your baby adjust to daylight saving time? Feel free to drop it in the comments below!
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