Daylight savings and baby sleep are interconnected. Babies are fragile sleepers, and even small seasons changes on the clock can cause disturbances in their sleep. Here’s how to adjust your baby to the time change and ensure his nighttime routine stays undisturbed.
On Sunday, November 1, 2020, we will switch our clocks back. The change will have no effect on the day-to-day life of those without children, but for parents, the change will have a big impact. Parents will gain an hour, but unfortunately, that extra hour can cause a disturbance in their child’s internal clock that isn’t tuned into this change.
Before you get too worried or stressed about the time change, let me offer a few tips for how to adjust your baby to the fall time change.
Do you have a solid sleep foundation set in place?
All babies are different. Some are better sleepers, while others are not. Babies who are good sleepers and have a solid sleep foundation are better equipped to get over the time change. In case your baby doesn’t have a solid sleep foundation, you have two weeks until November 1 to set it in place.
In a nutshell, a solid sleep foundation involves:
A dark room: darkness is conducive to sleep, and the best sleep environment for a baby is the one that is so dark that even when the sun is out, you can’t see. To create the perfect dark environment in your child’s room, get some blackout shades that do a fine job at blocking sunlight and ensure a long and healthy sleep. They come in all sizes and colors and are available for all budgets.
Noise for sleeping: before coming to this world, your baby spent his days and nights hearing the sound of your beating heart and the blood rushing around your body. That’s why babies feel most relaxed and comforted in a womb-like environment that calms them down and encourages them to fall asleep faster. White-noise machines do a great job creating that womb-like environment by drowning out external sounds like dogs barking, doorbells, crying siblings, and other disturbances.
Bedtime routine: a consistent bedtime routine can bring order to your baby’s chaotic sleep rhythm. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant or complicated. You can give him a bath, change his diapers, put on his pajamas, read a bedtime story, etc. The bedtime routine will provide cues to your child that it’s time to stop being active and start getting sleepy. With each activity, your child will get more relaxed and ready to fall asleep. Put him down at an earlier bedtime so prevent frequent night wakings.
Good sleepers will adjust more easily
Daylight savings and baby sleep are easier on parents when you have a good sleeper. A good sleeper will sleep 11-12 hours a night, nap for 2-4 hours per day, and wake up between 6 am-7 am. If this is the case with your child, you don’t have to do anything before November 1. He will need no more than five days to get accustomed to the time change.
Your schedule can look something like this:
- Start with the new plan on November 1. Your baby, who was normally waking up at 6 am, will now wake up at 5 am.
- When he wakes up in the morning, wait around 30 minutes before going to his room. Although it may be tempting to rush to his room when he starts crying, remember that you’re risking your baby’s sleep pattern falling apart from the ground up.
- In the afternoon, push your schedule back by 30 minutes. Schedule eating, naps, bath, and bedtime 30 minutes later. For example, if your little one was taking his nap at 2 pm, postpone it to 2:30 pm.
- Stick to the 30-minute adjusted schedule for two to three days.
- After two or three days, repeat step number one for two or three days, adding 30 additional minutes into the plan. With that, you’re now pushing everything back by one hour. Doing so will bring you back up to the schedule you were following before Daylight Saving Time.
Bad sleepers will be a tough nut to crack
If you’re dealing with a bad sleeper, you’ll need to take more proactive steps so that your baby’s sleep pattern doesn’t fall apart entirely. You’ll need to start preparing for the sleep transition one week before Dayling Saving Time.
You should take the following steps:
- Start with the transition on October 25. That night, adjust your baby’s bedtime to be 15 minutes later.
- When he wakes up in the morning, let him stay in his crib for 15 more minutes. Although you may feel tempted to get to him when he cries, keep in mind that you’re risking your little one’s sleep patterns falling apart completely.
- In the afternoon, push your schedule back by 15 minutes. Schedule eating, naps, bath, and bedtime 15 minutes later. For example, if your little one was taking his nap at 2 pm, postpone it to 2:15 pm.
- Move the schedule forward by 10-15 minutes every other day. By doing so, your child will be back to the correct hour for waking up when Daylight Saving Time day arrives.
- In case your child is resisting the 15-minute change, move the schedule forward by 10-15 minutes every third day. Keep in mind that adding one extra day will mean that the adjusting will continue for two or three days after Daylight Saving Time. You can expect your child to adjust to the new time by November 4.