Every new parent learns that having a newborn is exhausting, but once you’re out of those first few months (and if you’re able to get baby on some type of a schedule) things begin to seem more manageable. Life with a newborn becomes a distant memory, and you can actually start to enjoy your little one. That is, until you hit something like daylight savings time.
We’re almost at that point where the time springs forward, meaning you “lose” an hour. And what seemed like a minor inconvenience when you were childless becomes a far bigger deal once you’ve got a baby. Let’s be honest—parents will be losing way more than just sixty minutes of sleep.
If you’re anticipating March 11 with a sense of dread, Covered Goods® is here to help. We sat down with Keriann of Dream Factory Sleep Solutions for a little daylight savings time Q & A. Keriann is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She's helped hundreds of parents and children get some much needed rest—and she can help you too! Here’s how to best prepare baby for the time change, and manage sleep after the fact.
1. What can I do in the weeks (and days) before daylight savings to prepare baby for the time change? How early should I start preparing her? How should I adjust her schedule?
It is not necessary to make any changes leading up to the time change. Whether you make the changes a week earlier or at the same time as the rest of us, you can expect it to take 1 – 2 weeks for your baby’s circadian rhythm to adjust to the new times. If you decide you want to do a little prep work ahead of time, you can start a week prior to time change by pushing bedtime 15 minutes earlier every few days. For example, if your baby normally goes to bed at 7pm, start putting her to bed at 6:45 for a couple of days, then 6:30 for a couple of days, then 6:15. By the time you get to time change Sunday, your baby will be ready for a 6:00pm bedtime which will then be 7:00pm after time change. Depending on the age of your baby, you may need to cut the afternoon nap short just a bit to achieve the earlier bedtime. It can be a challenge to make these changes ahead of time, however. Since your daily schedule is going to remain the same (timing of work, school, classes etc.) sometimes babies don’t cooperate and it can be easier just to wait until the time changes then adjust as quickly as you can.
2. How do I manage bedtime that first day with the new time? When do I put her to bed?
If you haven’t made any changes ahead of time, then I recommend splitting the difference that very first night. If your baby’s normal bedtime is 7:00 (which will feel like 6:00 on that first night), put her down at 7:30pm instead (that will feel like 6:30). Instead of making a full hour leap, only adjust bedtime by 30 minutes those first three nights. Then move bedtime by 10 minute increments every few nights: 7:20 for 2 nights, 7:10 for 2 nights, then finally reaching 7:00pm bedtime within a week.
3. My baby’s always been a terrible sleeper. Am I doomed now that the time is changing? Is it still possible to make things better? Help!
If your baby does not sleep through the night now, then time change certainly isn’t going to do you any favors. But, there is never a bad time to start developing healthy sleep habits. The one exception to this is for babies who are early risers. The spring forward time change may just work to your advantage. If your baby currently wakes at 5am every morning, that will now become 6am. If you are in this situation, then you may not want to adjust your baby’s bedtime to keep everything the same and let the clock take care of the early rising. However, if your baby wakes frequently through the night or has difficulty falling asleep independently, then time change is as good a time as any to make changes. If you are unsure where to start, book a free evaluation call with Dream Factory Sleep Solutions to discuss your situation and get personalized help: Book a Free Evaluation Call.
4. What happens if baby’s sleep schedule still seems messed up after the time change? How can I help her get back on track?
Consistency is key in helping babies adjust to any scheduling shift. Many parents fall into the trap of putting their baby’s down for bed too early or too late after time change, which then causes poor sleep or overtiredness and can set you down the path of a difficult cycle to break. The best thing to do is to get on the new schedule as quickly as you can and stick with it. Consistency in your baby’s routine and timing of sleep will help him adjust. You may have a few rocky nights, but if you stay consistent your baby will adjust quicker, usually within 3 – 7 nights.
How are you preparing baby for the time change? We'd love to hear what has worked for you—let us know in the comments!