Daylight Savings Time — Adjusting Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule
There are few things that cause parents more panic than the twice-yearly time change. In just a few short weeks, we’ll have to deal with Daylight Saving Time ending, meaning when the clock reads 7:00 am on the morning of the time change it will feel like 8:00 am. To further complicate matters, many people can be easily confused by what these time changes mean for their baby’s sleep schedule.
While some sleep experts advocate changing their child’s sleep schedule in the weeks preceding the time change to help them adjust ahead of time, I find that approach not only unnecessary, but also ineffective. Babies aren’t aware of clocks and their sleep cycles are largely regulated by the sun, so my aim is to make the time change as effortless as possible on both parents and baby.
First of all, start off by thinking about the time your baby typically starts their day. For this example, let’s use 7:00 am. If your baby normally wakes at 7:00 am, on the morning of the time change, you would aim to get them up to start their day when the clock reads 6:30 am. This will feel like 7:30 am to your baby, only about 30 minutes after they normally begin their day. Proceed on with that day as normal, doing baby’s entire schedule 30 minutes “earlier” on the clock (even though this may feel about 30 minutes later than what baby is normally used to). Bedtime can be 30 minutes “earlier” by the clock as well, or, you can keep baby up at their “normal” bedtime by the clock. Starting the following day, you would simply get your baby up at their “normal” time of 7:00 am as the clock reads and that day you would proceed on as normal with their typical schedule doing everything by the clock instead of thinking about, “but this feels like X time to my baby.”
Admittedly, many families experience some sleep disruptions in their child’s sleep for about 7-14 days after the time change. Please believe me, these disruptions are normal and temporary and always resolve within 2 weeks of the time change, provided parents are consistent about starting their baby’s day at the same time each morning and provided they ignore the fact that the clock changed. It typically only takes the human body about one day to adjust for every hour of a time change, meaning if you travel to a time zone 3 hours ahead of your own, you’ll be adjusted on day 3-4 of your trip. Babies tend to do best when kept on their normal schedule ahead of the time change and when they are allowed to adjust over a 1-2 day period after the time change.
And just remember, if you remain consistent, the time change will be a minor blip instead of a major issue throughout the fall and winter holidays.
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