Daylight saving time can be really alarming (pun intended.) You've worked hard to get your baby sleeping on a schedule and worry how the clocks moving ahead one hour will affect your baby’s sleep.
In this article, we share tips to help make springing forward to daylight saving time smooth for your little one (and you!)
Spring daylight saving time
This year daylight saving time (DST) starts Sunday, March 13, 2022, at 2:00 am in most of the United States.
Spring daylight saving means setting the clocks forward one hour, effectively asking your baby to go to sleep one hour earlier than what they’re used to.
Falling asleep one hour earlier than normal is almost an impossible task for babies; keep reading to find out why.
Daylight saving time affect baby sleep
Newborns that do not have a regular sleeping schedule yet are unlikely to be disrupted by the time change because their circadian rhythms are not fully developed yet.
Daylight saving time does affect babies who have a fully established circadian rhythm and regular sleep schedule. Changing the time on our wall clock will not automatically change our little one’s internal clock.
After springing ahead, babies will seemingly fall asleep much later because 7:00 pm on a wall clock still feels like 6:00 pm.
Parents can minimize the impact of daylight saving times by not assuming the baby's sleep schedule will magically change when we change the time on the clock.
Instead, ease baby into the new schedule by adjusting their routine accordingly. Keep reading to learn three ways to do just that.
How to change your baby's sleep schedule
With the right preparation, daylight saving time does not have to be a struggle. Here are three different ways to change your baby's schedule to daylight saving time:
Parents with children who already wake extremely early may not want to adjust their schedule. It is totally ok to simply continue with your baby’s natural sleep schedule on the new physical clock time.
For example, my children are early birds and are alive, alert, awake, enthusiastic at 4:30 am. Spring daylight saving time allows us to wake at a slightly more civilized hour of 5:30 AM.
To adjust naturally, you will simply change the clocks forward one hour but keep your child’s sleep schedule as is. So a baby who previously slept from 6:30 PM – 4:30 AM continues to sleep 10 hours a night; however, those 10 hours now look like 7:30 PM – 5:30 AM.
If your family needs to keep the same schedule after the spring ahead time change, all you need to do is shift a child’s schedule later by one hour.
To adjust gradually, begin adjusting your baby’s nap times and bedtimes four days leading up to daylight saving time. You will want to scootch sleep by 15 minutes each day until they are on the new schedule.
So Thursday (4 days prior), a baby currently sleeping 8:00 pm - 7:00 am, you would wake up at 6:45 am and put them to bed at 7:45 pm. On Friday (3 days prior), you would wake your baby up at 6:30 am and put them to bed at 7:30 pm. Continuing to shift sleep by 15 minutes every day until Sunday, at which point your baby’s sleep schedule should look the same.
There is also springing forward, just jumping in Monday morning and moving everything one hour earlier. Yes, that is everything. Nap times, meal times, and bedtimes. If this is the route, your family takes, have patience as you’re likely to be a bit groggy and grumpy while adjusting to the new time.
Whether changing your baby’s sleep schedule gradually or by springing forward, the secret to success is to ensure the sleep environment is well prepared.
Set up bedroom to promote sleep
When we sleep and wake is controlled by our circadian rhythm; think of this as an internal clock determining wakefulness and sleep. As you can imagine, it's important to send our bodies the correct signals.
Help your baby make sense of daylight saving time changes by creating a bedroom conducive to sleep. Here are tips for setting up a bedroom to promote sleep:
Keep bedroom dark
After an especially dreary winter indoors, we are ready for more sunshine! But the additional hours of sunlight can be disruptive to nap times.
Blackout curtains can be especially helpful during daylight saving because darkness helps our bodies release melatonin, which relaxes our bodies to allow us to sleep. Keeping the room dark during sleep hours will keep the extra hours of sunshine out and help your baby naturally adjust to the time change.
Block outside noise
A really neat little-known fact, our little dreamers drift between light sleep and deep sleep every 20 minutes or so. During these "sleep arousals," babies will wake momentarily and become anxious.
If babies begin to stir, the soothing drone of the white-noise machine can block out any sound that could fully wake your baby and provide a source of comfort that encourages them to sink back into a deep slumber.
Zen Neo swaddle
The other baby bedroom must-have for daylight saving time is a weighted swaddle. The Nested Bean Zen Sack™ actually prevents sleep disruptions. The gently weighted cuddle pad helps babies self-soothe and fall asleep independently. Parents have found that using Nested Bean’s sleepsacks resulted in longer sleep in 1 -3 nights.
Control the temperature
Think of how hard it is to fall asleep when the room is too warm or cold. Your baby is just as sensitive. They are not likely to sleep well if the room temperature is not controlled.
Experts advise keeping the temperature in your baby's room between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, or 20 and 22 degrees celsius.
It may be tempting to try shortening, lengthening, or even cutting out a baby's regular nap in an attempt to help them adjust to or from DST, don’t do it.
Sleep begets sleep. Meaning a well-rested baby has an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep at night time.
Naps are generally unpredictable under the age of 6 months, so it’s completely ok to allow your baby to nap based on time since last sleep. Rest assured your child’s nap time will naturally align with their wake times.
Maintain daily routine
Just as you should safeguard a baby’s nap try to keep their daily routine as normal as possible. Babies are comforted by consistency, and a daily routine helps make sense of their day and makes bedtime go smoother.
A rough example may be a big wakeup in the morning with cuddles and a feed, followed by a walk outside in the stroller or carrier. After your baby’s nap, it’s tummy time and nursery rhymes. Once it’s time for bed, you may have a nighttime feeding, warm bath, bedtime book, massage, and lullaby.
However, you structure your day, maintaining a daily routine will help your baby adjust more easily.
Be patient: Adjusting takes time
With daylight saving time changes, there is a risk of sleep disruption. This shift in sleeping/waking habits reduces overall sleep duration and quality.
Simply said, for a few days following the time change, you and your baby are likely to feel irritable and dazed.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it takes approximately a week for people to adjust to the time change.
So, be patient! With a little bit of extra effort, you and your baby can smoothly adjust to daylight saving time.
Spring forward: Key takeaways
As a parent, you know that daylight saving time is not only about losing (or gaining) an hour of sleep. Here is a quick recap of how to help adjust your babies schedule to daily saving time:
- Sunday, March 13, 2022, at 2:00 am
- Start changes 4 days prior
- Move sleep by 15 minutes each day
- Keep bedroom dark
- Block outside noise
- Zen Neo Swaddle
- Protect napping
- Maintain daily routine
- Be patient