Baby Daylight Savings Adjustment: What You Need to Know for a Smooth Transition
Getting your little one into a great sleep schedule is challenging enough as it is, but adding in a time change can make things even more difficult. The good news is that with a little preparation and a great bedtime routine, you can help your child navigate ‘spring forward’ and ‘fall back’ with minimal disruption. In this article, we’ll walk you through why these time changes exist in the first place, how you can expect daylight savings to impact your little one and how to prepare for a smooth transition. We also share our favorite tips and tricks to help with baby daylight savings adjustment, so whether the clocks are jumping forward or falling back, you’ll be prepared.
Table of Contents
- What is daylight savings time?
- How will daylight savings time affect my baby?
- How to prepare for baby daylight savings adjustment
- Tips and tricks for baby daylight savings adjustment
What is daylight savings time?
Daylight savings time begins in the spring, early March to be exact, when the clocks move forward and we lose an hour of sleep. In the fall, on the first Sunday in November, we return to standard time by moving the clocks back and gaining an hour of sleep. Daylight savings time was implemented during World War I to save fuel and power by extending daylight hours.
How will daylight savings time affect my baby?
An hour time change may not sound like a big deal, but it can have a surprisingly substantial impact on sleep routines. This is especially true for newborns and toddlers who are just settling into sleep schedules for the first time. For some children, the change might not have a noticeable impact, but for others the disturbance might cause some behavioral changes. So, be patient and know that the baby daylight savings adjustment might take some time. If you’re wondering what to expect, here are a few signs that the baby daylight savings adjustment is impacting your little one:
- Your baby is more fussy than usual. This could be a sign that they’re overtired as a result of the time change impacting their quality or quantity of sleep.
- Your baby is waking up earlier than usual.
- You’re having a hard time getting your baby to go down for naps and bedtime.
How to prepare for the baby daylight savings adjustment
The good news about the baby daylight savings adjustment is that with a little preparation, you can make the transition much easier for both you and your little. If you’re wondering how to prepare your baby for daylight savings, here are a few things you can try.
Week Long Gradual Transition
With this option, shift the timing of your little one’s day by ten minute intervals each day for the entire week, leading up to the Sunday time change. If you’re preparing for ‘fall back,’shift their wake up time to be ten minutes later each day. If you’re preparing for ‘spring forward,’ shift their wake up time to be ten minutes earlier each day. You can keep wake windows and nap times the exact same.
If you’re looking for a shorter transition time, try playing around with wake window times over the course of the weekend that the time change is occurring. If you’re preparing for ‘fall back,’ you can expand wake windows by 5 - 15 minutes each (depending on how many naps your little one takes each day). If you’re preparing for spring forward, you can shorten wake windows by 5 - 15 minutes. This shift in wake window duration can be enough to accommodate the time change and keep your little one on track with their regular bedtime.
Set A New Bedtime
Some parents take a different approach that can be just as effective. They stick to their exact same schedule and simply change their child’s bedtime instead. So, after ‘fall back,’ your child will simply go to bed an hour earlier. For example, if your little one’s bedtime was 8 PM during the summer and fall, it will simply shift to 7 PM for the winter and spring.
Tips and tricks for baby daylight savings adjustment
Stick to a bedtime routine
Establishing a soothing bedtime routine is key to helping your little one adjust to daylight savings time. These rituals become helpful cues to signal to your child that it’s time to unwind and prepare for sleep. Here are a few key elements you can incorporate into your baby sleep routine:
- A feeding. Newborns often sleep better, if they have just been fed and many even fall asleep during feedings. So, this is a great bedtime activity to try with your little one.
- A warm bath. Warm water helps muscles relax which, in turn, helps your baby sleep. Incorporating a gentle, baby-friendly lavender or chamomile wash can help make bath time even more relaxing. Finish off by wrapping them in a cozy towel.
- Cozy pajamas. Putting your little one into comfortable pajamas before bed can also help signal to your newborn that it’s time for sleep. For younger babies, a swaddle or a sleep bag (starting around 4 months) are also wonderful for helping your little one drift off comfortably.
- Lullabies or white noise. Sound can have a powerful calming effect on newborns, so try singing, playing a short lullaby or turning on a white noise machine. It’ll let your child know that it’s time to close their eyes and relax
- Storytime. If lullabies or white noise don’t work for your newborn, try a book. Wrap your baby up in a cozy blanket and read them a short story, before you place them in their crib.
Spend time outdoors
Spending time outdoors during the day exposes your child to natural sunlight, which can help reset their body clock.
Let the light in
In addition to spending time outdoors, you can maximize the impact sunshine can have on your child’s circadian rhythm. Let as much natural light into your home as possible during the day.
Focus on naptime
When baby daylight savings adjustment is having an impact on your little one’s behavior, it’s important to ensure they’re getting enough rest. Often, fussiness can be a result of sleep deprivation, so ensure they get regular naps to offset nighttime sleep disturbances
Whether you’re experiencing the repercussions of a time change or preparing for one, remember to be patient. Baby daylight savings adjustment can take time. We hope these strategies and tips will help you and your child tackle this transition with ease, so you canget back to a restful and restorative sleep routine. Sweet dreams!
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s a good idea to start adjusting your child’s bedtime in the days leading up to a time change, so that they can ease into the shift.
If you are heading toward the start of daylight savings time or ‘spring forward,’ gradually move your child’s bedtime earlier. You can do this in 15-minute increments for a period of four days, leading up to the time change.
If you are heading toward the end of daylight savings time or ‘fall back,’ gradually move your child’s bedtime later. You can do this in 15-minute increments for a period of four days, leading up to the time change.
The first thing new parents should note is that newborns have an immature circadian rhythm. In the womb, babies are used to sleeping during the day when their mother is awake and they become active at night, while their mother rests. So, it’s not productive to work with your little one to regulate their circadian rhythm until they are around 4 to 6 months of age. Once they have reached this age, your little one will begin to respond to cues in the environment like light levels. In order to help your child regulate their circadian rhythm, here are a few things you can try:
Ensure your baby’s sleep environment is dark.
Conduct bedtime rituals in a dark or dimly lit environment, so your baby’s body can begin to release melatonin and prepare for sleep.
Let natural light into your child’s space in the mornings to help them gradually wake with the rising sun.
Spend time outdoors in the sunlight during the day.
Do your best to stick to a regular routine during the day to help keep your child’s body on a predictable schedule.
Setting up a regular sleep schedule for your baby is hard enough under the best of circumstances. Throw a new time zone into the mix and it gets even more challenging! The good news is that if you plan ahead, you can help mitigate disruptions to your baby’s sleep. Here are a few strategies that can help:
Consider whether or not it’s even worth adjusting your baby’s schedule. If you’re taking a short trip and the time change isn’t too drastic, it might be worth keeping your baby on their existing sleep schedule.
If you’re traveling further and for a longer period of time, help your child adjust to the time change before you leave. You can start this process several weeks before you leave. Gradually adjust your child’s bedtime in the right direction in 20 minute intervals each day.
If you haven’t had a chance to gradually adjust your child’s bedtime, an overnight flight might be a good idea. Your baby is more likely to sleep through the flight, which means you will both arrive more rested. Once you land, start adjusting your schedule to the local time right away.
Fall back occurs at the end of the daylight savings time period. At 2 AM the clocks ‘fall back’ one hour and we return to standard time. This means you will get an extra hour of sleep. It also means that the mornings are lighter and the sun will set earlier in the evening.
Even adults can have a hard time adjusting to time changes. Many of us feel a little out of sorts and more tired than usual in the weeks following ‘fall back’ and ‘spring forward’. Babies and toddlers are no different. It may take a few weeks for your little one to adjust to daylight savings. This is perfectly normal. Be patient with your child and take it one day at a time.