Spring Forward: Adjusting Baby Sleep for Daylight Savings
Spring means flowers are blooming, birds are tweeting, and mamas are pushing strollers without freezing.
But…there are also three naughty words also associated with spring: Daylight Saving Time.
As mothers, we know Daylight Savings was created to punish us for the offenses of our youth, right? Could there possibly be any other reason why the entire nation would want to mess with our baby’s sleep/wake schedule?
Well, I actually have some really good news about the springtime Daylight Savings adjustment. If your little one is an early riser, adjusting the clock an hour later just solved your problem. What used to be a 5:30am wake time will now be a 6:30am wake time!
I have three solutions for handling Daylight Savings this spring (and none of them involve moving to my home state of Arizona where we proudly forgo Daylight Saving Time).
Solution #1: One way of handling the clock change is to just “Spring Forward” with your whole schedule. Yes, that means you’ll simply move your entire day forward one hour. Forget the time has changed and maintain your normal routine. Allow your baby to wake at his normal wake time, which will naturally be an hour later on the clock. So, if you had a 7pm bedtime and 6am wake time, you now have an 8pm bedtime and a 7am wake time. Voilà, that was easy!
For some, Solution #1 is just not feasible. There are families who have to be out the door at a certain time in the morning so allowing baby to “sleep in” just isn’t possible.
Another scenario where this wouldn’t work is for babies who have a bedtime of 8pm or later. Let me explain why: Research shows that babies have a “sweet spot” bedtime that makes going to sleep the easiest and staying asleep the longest. For most, this bedtime is between 7-8pm. After 8-8:30pm, babies (and toddlers too) get a “second wind” and become overtired. Have you ever tried to get an overtired baby to sleep? It is nearly impossible! What is now an 8pm bedtime will soon be a 9pm bedtime after the time change. This is simply too late for most babies. It can cause multiple night wakings and even earlier mornings.
This leads us to Solution #2.
Solution #2: During the week before the time shift, adjust your baby’s entire schedule by 10-15 minutes each day. Wake your baby 10-15 minutes earlier than normal in the morning. (I know, this will physically hurt your heart!) Put her down 10-15 minutes earlier at each nap and 10-15 minutes earlier at bedtime. Within 4-6 days, you have your exact schedule intact. Of course, always watch sleepy cues.
Solution #3: If the previous solutions don’t sound doable, then “Meet in the Middle.” On Sunday morning after the time change, go wake your baby 30 minutes early. Put her down 30 minutes earlier for all naps and 30 minutes earlier for bedtime too. You can slightly adjust her schedule as needed throughout the week.
No matter what solution you pick, let me share my 3 best tips to help you adjust to your new schedule as seamlessly as possible:
Light exposure is your #1 tool to help adjust your little one’s schedule. Get outside in the sunshine (especially in the early morning and early afternoon).An hour before bedtime, do just the opposite. Pull the curtains, dim the lights, and turn off the television. Invest in some good blackout curtains. Just a bit of light seeping into the bedroom at bedtime and in those early morning hours can truly impact sleep. If you don’t have blackout curtains, dark sheets or even black construction paper taped over the windows can work too. (No matter what you use, make sure your window coverings are out of your baby’s reach.)
If you have taken one of the Taking Cara Babies sleep classes or followed our 3-4 month guide, you already know how important a bedtime routine can be for helping to cue your baby’s brain that sleep is imminent.For example, let’s say your bedtime routine goes something like this: dim the lights, offer a bedtime feeding, swaddle with your Ollie Swaddle or put on a sleep sack, and read a book before you put your baby down in the crib. Maintain this routine! This is often way more important in cueing your Little One that it’s bedtime than the hour hand on a clock.
Don’t have a bedtime routine yet? You can start today! Here’s a great example of how one of our mamas implemented a bedtime routine with her baby.
Be patient. It takes time to adjust to a clock change. Try to go with the flow and watch YOUR baby’s sleep cues. If he needs a mini cat-nap in the late afternoon as his schedule is being shifted, allow it. If bedtime needs to happen just a bit earlier or later, that’s okay. Remember, he’s a human, not a clock. He will adjust. Just give him some grace… and while you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself some too. You’ve got this, Mama!
If patience is in short supply because your baby is already struggling with sleep, we have the resources to help you with that!
If you have a baby under 12 weeks, we offer a live and online course “Will I Ever Sleep Again?” that will help you to lay those foundational sleep skills with your new baby. This no-cry approach will gently walk you through strategies to read your baby’s personal cues and help her sleep better soon!
For babies in the tricky 3-4 month phase, we have a digital download called “Navigating Months 3 & 4.” This 50-page booklet lays out a clear step-by-step path for sleep progress, even during the dreaded 4-month sleep regression!
And if your baby is 5-24 months old, our “ABC’s of Sleep” class will give you a research-based plan designed to help you customize a personal sleep plan for your little one. This course will give you the coaching you need to help your baby sleep independently through the night in just 14 days.
Now, I have a Spring question for you. Why do those Peeps call out to me in the middle of the grocery store? They are pure sugar and so unhealthy! How do they know I will throw them in my cart? Oh well… chicks or bunnies?
About the Author:
Cara Dumaplin is a mom to four kids who keep her laughing daily. Although she swore she would never date a doctor, it is with joy that she admits marrying her husband, a pediatrician, was the beginning of a crazy-amazing life together. (Albeit, she has had to learn to forgive him for constantly feeding their kids Pop-Tarts for breakfast.) A registered nurse with 18 years experience, Cara’s eyes light up when she discusses her passion of educating, encouraging, and empowering new parents. Follow Taking Cara Babies on Facebook or Instagram for helpful baby sleep tips, successful infant sleep stories, and a glimpse into this chaotic, yet blessed life. For more blogs by Cara, you can click HERE.