It’s that time of year that most parents dread…day light saving time (DST), which is scheduled on Sunday, November 4th! Twice a year we are forced to change our clocks and adjust our routine and schedules.
Time change of only one hour can affect your baby’s circadian rhythms (physical, mental and behavioural changes) immensely, which in turn may cause disruption to your babies sleep schedules.
The real panic here is that babies and children will start to wake up an hour earlier than their anticipated wake time, especially if their schedules are not shifted early on. Before you lose your mind with the thought that your baby who currently wakes at 6 AM, may possibly wake at 5 AM…follow these tips to avoid the shift in their schedule.
1. Start Early. It is extremely important to make the shift in small increments and give your baby at least 3-7 days to adjust. Shifts like this do not happen over night! Since your baby will be going to sleep an hour later than their usual bedtime, putting baby to bed 10-15 minutes later each day is key and by the end of the week, your baby should be sleeping at their usual time.
Let me give you an example: If your baby typically sleeps at 7 pm – 7 am and naps at 10 am and 2 pm, from Sunday – Monday (week before DST), naps will be at 10:15 am and 2: 15 am followed by bedtime at 7:15 pm. From Tuesday – Wednesday, naps will be at 10:30 am and 2: 30 pm, followed by bedtime at 7:30 pm. You continue this process until the night before DST where your bedtime becomes 8 pm. With this technique, you want to push out morning wake up as much as you can by 15 minutes each day as well.
You want to ensure that you adjust your baby’s entire schedule in the same way. That means you are shifting their nap(s) and not only their bedtime. Feedings may also need to be adjusted throughout the day as well.
2. Start day of DST. Push all naps and bedtime 15 minutes later every couple of days for about a week. Your 7 am wake up will now be 6 am on day of DST and your 7 pm bedtime will now be 6 pm. Your 10 am nap will now be 9 am and 2 pm nap will now be 1 pm, but on Sunday (the day the clocks change), you want to make that 9 am nap at 9:15 am and 1 pm nap at 1:15 pm. Bedtime will now be 6:15 pm rather than 6 pm.
3. Do nothing. This is a great option for babies/toddlers who are adaptable to change. If you are OK with your baby who typically wakes at 7 am to wake up at 6 am on day of DST, this option is good for you.
Keep your nap and bedtime routine the same. Your baby lives for routine and it will help them make the association that it is time to sleep. Nap and bedtime routines definitely help babies unwind, especially when it is a quiet, calm and relaxing routine you create for them.
Black out curtains and white noise is highly recommended and will help your baby sleep and stay asleep. A lot of exposure to light during the day will help your baby shift to the time change. When baby is awake expose them to light and when baby is sleeping, keep it nice and dark.
Stay calm; your baby will get back on schedule soon! You may be surprised as to how quickly your baby adjusts to the new schedule. Try not to keep your baby awake for too long as that can cause early morning waking’s as well.
If you have any questions regarding daylight saving time, do not hesitate to contact me.
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
Oct 24, 2019