Just when you’ve got your baby’s sleep down to a science, you see the dreaded note on the calendar— Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 14. If you’re worried your baby or toddler’s established sleep patterns will shift and make you sleep-deprived, don’t be. As a certified child sleep consultant at Good Night Sleep Site, these are the concerns I hear from parents every spring, but with a few tips, you can and will get through this. Read on for ways to help your baby get a good night’s sleep (and you too) when the clocks spring ahead.
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Here are 5 tips for helping your baby sleep during Daylight Savings
Create a conducive sleep experience
Where your child sleeps matters—if they are in a room that’s too bright, loud, or hot, it can lead to sleep difficulties. Start by always making sure they sleep in the same place night after night, so they associate this spot with bedtime. Then, create a space for better sleep using good shades or blackout window treatments making the room dark and primed for a restful night. It’s essential during daylight savings as the sun rises earlier in the morning and sets later at night— and remember, it can never be too dark for a baby or toddler’s sleep environment. I recommend using a white noise machine to muffle sounds because even noises like birds chirping can cause your child to wake up. Lastly, make sure the room is between 68-72°F, and your child is wearing a sleeper or onesie that’s right for the season.
Gradually adjust your baby’s schedule
If your child is sensitive to schedule changes (or you want to start early), slowly adjust their schedule the week before the time change. Here’s how you do it: Bump your schedule earlier by 15-minutes every couple of days. That way, when the clocks “spring forward,” your child is already adjusted to the new time. If you choose this approach, adjust the entire schedule, including feedings, naps, and playtimes.
Jump right in
If you can’t ease into it or you forget, try the “rip the bandaid off’ approach by setting your clocks to the new time before you go to bed on Saturday night. Then, follow the new clock time right from your family’s wake-up time on Sunday morning (this is my tried and true approach with my own family). Most babies and toddlers who have healthy sleep habits and no sleep debt can adjust to the new time without real issues.
Give it time
Regardless of the approach you choose, it will take your child (and you) a few days and up to a week to adjust to the clocks springing forward by one hour. The key is to remain consistent during sleep times and not let any bad habits creep into your routine. Inconsistencies and bad routines can lead to sleep-deprived kids not knowing what to expect. By staying consistent, you will avoid the sleep chaos many parents find themselves accidentally falling into.
Get out in the sun
Getting exposure to natural sunlight helps reset our internal clocks. During awake times, go outside and bask in the sun together. Going on walks, swinging at the playground, or laying on a blanket in the sun can help ease your child into the new spring forward time change—and rest assured, they will be back on schedule before you know it.