Daylight Savings [Spring Forward]
Updated: Feb 19
Daylight savings time is coming up this weekend. Most parents don’t mind it so much in the fall when they gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they hear they are going to have to lose an hour of sleep when spring forward!
Children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning and that is why people usually can see a greater effect on children when the time changes. Every year I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep.
So what is the best way to handle it?
1. Start on Sunday
My recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
2. Split the Difference
My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time.
Babies 0-6 Months
Most infants at this young age do not have a “schedule” yet, so they are the exception. Simply jump to the new time on Sunday, as if you were traveling to a new time zone. Use your baby’s awake windows all day.
If your baby has a predictable bedtime, meaning she always goes to bed around the same time each night, move bedtime back by 30 minutes for 3 nights, then on night 4, put your baby down at their usual bedtime. Do the same for their naps. In the morning, wake up your baby earlier by 30 minutes.
For younger babies who need a slower transition due to their limited flexibility for wake windows, use 15-minute increments each night, nap and morning wakeup until you reach the normal time.
30 minute increment example: if bedtime is normally 7pm, you’ll put her down at 7:30pm for 3 nights, then on night 4, you should be back to 7pm. You would do the same for naps. If your baby’s first nap is usually 9:30am, beginning Sunday morning, her nap would be at 10:00amn day 4, nap times should be back to normal time.
15 minute increment example: if bedtime is normally 7pm, the first night, put her down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on; so, in four nights, you should be back to 7pm. You would do the same for naps.
3. Pro Tips
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially, and they won’t be as tired. It usually takes about a week or two for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time; some children it can take up to a month. Be patient and consistent; it will happen.
If you have an early riser, daylight savings can actually work for you this time! Keep baby on pre-daylight savings schedule so that you child (in real time) is now going to bed a little later and waking a little later into the morning.
Burn off some of your child's excess energy so that they can take those naps and bedtime earlier than usual. If you haven't had a chance to go on that big hike or long bike ride, this is the time to do it!
Darken the Room
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the evenings when it gets darker. With daylight savings, there is more light in the evenings, which means your baby's melatonin production might not kick in as early to help your baby fall asleep. Try dimming the lights and turning off screens 1 hour prior to bedtime and use blackout curtains like these. This will be helpful in the morning with more daylight as well.
Prime your child for sleep by keeping with bedtime and nap routines. Your child will learn that sleep should follow next when they get into bed.
Patient, Positive Mindset
Expect a little more fussiness or tantrums during the days following daylight savings. Your child's body clock is still making adjustments and it can throw them off a bit more than the usual. Support your child with a few extra cuddles and low-key activities that are engaging and new to help take the edge off. I personally like do a few extra crafts that can be found at the dollar store.
As much as time change can be a hurdle for our little ones, parents find it challenging as well. Plan out your week and make sure you take care of your needs as well.
If you're dealing with more than a daylight-savings-hurdle and want more support with age appropriate sleep solutions that lead to positive sleep patterns, book a complimentary sleep assessment call with me. My 1-1 private consultations can help you get sleep improvements quickly and without all the stress.