Navigating a Baby’s Sleep Schedule During Daylight Saving
Since Daylight Saving Time is only a one-hour time shift, you may think that your baby will be able to easily adapt. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. When it comes to Daylight Saving and baby sleep, even the smallest of time shifts can mess up your baby’s sleep schedule, making them a bit more cranky and frustrated come bedtime.
Wondering how to adjust baby sleep for Daylight Saving? It all comes down to getting ahead of the time change and preparing accordingly. Keep reading to learn more about babies and Daylight Saving.
Why Does the Time Change Affect Baby?
Babies are creatures of habit. More than that, they’re highly attuned to their circadian rhythm, or internal clock. Because of this, babies stick to their routines no matter what time of day it is. For example, a baby that normally wakes up at 8 a.m. will continue to wake up at roughly this time of day. If the time gets pushed an hour forward or back, a baby will still wake up at their normal time, regardless of whether it’s no longer 8 a.m. You baby won’t be able to wake up earlier or later until their internal clock is programmed to do so. And this requires direct effort by a parent or caregiver.
It’s also important to remember that all babies are different. When the clock shifts, one baby may wake up even earlier in the morning than usual. Another baby may wake up later. Some babies will need longer to adjust to a time change, while others may be better at adjusting quickly. It all depends on your unique baby.
How Long Does it Take Baby to Adjust?
As mentioned above, all babies are different. Regardless, adjusting to the time change is a process. Even if your baby is great at adjusting, it probably won’t be an overnight adjustment.
Most babies will be able to adjust to the new time change within a week or two.
Strategies for Adjusting Baby Sleep
This method tends to work better with children who don’t get as overtired quite as easily (generally children 1 and older). Two days before the Daylight Saving time change, you’ll want to adjust bedtime, eating schedules, and naps by 30 minutes each day (either 30 minutes ahead or back depending on the time of the year). Because you’re making 30 minute adjustments for two days in a row, you will be able to compensate for the lost / gained hour within two short days.
Adjusting More Gradually
For children who get easily tired (or just younger babies in general), you’ll probably need some more time for them to get used to the time change. Instead of making the hour adjustment in two days, try making the adjustment over 4-6 days. With this strategy, you’ll be adjusting bedtimes, nap times, and meal times by either 10 or 15 minutes each day. Although this is still an adjustment, it can be a bit more palatable.
Daylight Saving Tips for Babies
Beyond adjusting the times of their bedtimes and meal times, there are additional strategies you can utilize to help your baby adjust to the new time. Here are some of the top tips to help Baby adjust to Daylight Saving Time.
Keep Baby’s room dark
If it’s lighter outside than normal, your baby or toddler won’t understand why. And it’s not a matter of you explaining it to them. To try and “fool” your baby’s internal body clock into thinking it’s darker than it really is, be sure to keep their room dark. Using blackout curtains can be an effective way of blocking out light, no matter how bright it is outside.
Stay the course
Even if you’re making small adjustments over the course of a few days, your toddler might fight you on their new mealtimes, or be especially frustrated and irritable when they have to go to sleep. Although your patience may wear thin, stick to what the clock (and your adjustment plan) says. This means you’ll want to encourage your child to eat or sleep at the time that you dictate, even if they’re a little grumpy to do so. Sticking to a routine will help them adjust to the time change.
Go outside and get moving
Outdoor activities are not only wonderful for the soul, but they also help Baby maintain their circadian rhythm. Not only will getting some fresh air be good for Baby, but it will be warmly welcomed by the rest of the family, too. Plus, exercise from outdoor activities will help with Baby’s motor development and will help them sleep more soundly at night.