TAKING CARA BABIES

Daylight Savings and Your Baby’s Sleep

Cara Dumaplin, Founder

October 16, 2016

It’s that time again: boots, hay rides, and carving pumpkins. Oh how I love Fall! The months of crisp sweatshirt weather, warm mugs of apple cider, and leaves turning colors are my absolute favorite.

There’s also one other great advantage that comes with my beloved Autumn season: we gain an extra hour of sleep when Daylight Savings ends!

Remember, we “fall back” an hour in the first week of November? Then, on that beautiful Sunday morning, we awaken and instead of it being 8am, it’s only 7am. We roll over and drift off to dreamland for another hour. Well, at least that’s how it was before we had children. Remember? Ahhhh….

(Snap, Snap) Now, back to reality. You have small children and their little internal biological rhythms have no idea that you set the microwave clock back an hour before you went to bed last night. So, even though YOUR new time says it’s only 5:30am, their bodies are screaming, “Wake UP! It’s 6:30am. Time to start our day!” Not only does this happen the first day after setting your clock back, but everyday thereafter. You drag your exhausted bones out of bed and swear tomorrow morning will be different only to have it continue for weeks.

Well, I have the SUPERPOWER to help conquer the end of Daylight Savings and I’m going to share it with you.

Here it is: Move to Arizona and be my neighbor!

We don’t have Daylight Savings. Our babies don’t have to deal with this awful shift in their schedules twice a year! I’m serious. There is an empty lot in our cul-de-sac. We can have block parties and discuss infant sleep in detail while we sip hot apple cider in my new patio rocking chairs.

Oh. You can’t?

Okay, well fortunately I have been studying evidenced-based research and the emergent findings regarding infant sleep are phenomenal. I have created 4 tips to help you conquer Daylight Savings sleep disasters.

1) The week prior to Daylight Savings shift your child’s schedule by ten minutes. 
That means the Tuesday before Daylight Savings shift your baby’s wake time, nap times, and bedtime 10 minutes later than normal. Each day shift another 10 minutes later.Example:

Norm Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat. Sun. (Clock Change)
Wake Time 6:30am 6:40am 6:50am 7:00 7:10 7:20 7:30 now 6:30am
Nap 1 9:00am 9:10am 9:20 9:30 9:40 9:50 10:00 now 9:00am
Nap 2 1:00pm 1:10pm 1:20pm 1:30 1:40 1:50p 2:00 now 1:00pm
Bedtime 7:00pm 7:10pm 7:20pm 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:45 now 6:45p

Wait, did you catch it? Was it an error? Did you notice that bedtime wasn’t pushed beyond 7:30pm until the clock was actually turned back? Go look!

Parents, this is what research is demonstrating:

A LATER bedtime typically does NOT create a LATER wake time.

It’s true! In fact, it is typically the opposite. An early bedtime helps babies sleep later in the morning.

When a mom contacts me about her baby waking up too early, the first thing I suggest is backing up bedtime to 6:45-7:15pm. Although it seems logical that a later bedtime would cause a later wake time, it rarely does. The “sweet spot bedtime” that makes going to sleep the easiest and staying asleep the longest is 6:45-7:15pm.

So, if your baby’s current bedtime is after 7:30pm. Do NOT push it forward. This will not help your baby sleep later in the morning. On Sunday, you can put your baby to bed at 6:45-7:00pm (which will feel like 7:45-8pm).

(**If you are finding this blog post and have missed the week before the clock change, keep reading. The following tips will be helpful.)

2) Maintain a very consistent bedtime routine. If I have created a customized sleep plan for your baby, you will remember how we discussed the importance of cuing your little one’s brain that bedtime is imminent. Each night, do the same activities in the same order. The routine doesn’t have to be complicated; it just needs to be the same each night.

For example: bath, diaper, jammies, book, feeding, snuggling, then to the crib. This routine helps signal to your baby’s brain that sleep is coming no matter what time the clock is reading.

And, like Superman, I have another SUPERPOWER to help you defeat the clock change havoc.

3) LIGHT!

Yes, research is proving light (and darkness) is an amazing tool for beating sleep battles.

In the morning expose your baby to daylight. Get out of the house! Go for a walk. Play at the park. Eat breakfast on the patio. This exposure to daylight early in the day helps produce the sleep hormone, melatonin, later that same night.

If weather does not permit you to be outside you really should consider moving to Phoenix research shows that bright, indoor light is almost equally effective. Turn those lights on and allow the sunlight to peek in the windows during your baby’s awake time.

The same goes for early evening. If your baby is cranky at 6:00pm and you are wondering how he’ll ever make it to bedtime. Expose him to light! (I grew up in Kansas. I know it is pitch dark at this time in the fall.) So, turn on the lights inside the house. It really does help. Just remember to dim them once you start your bedtime routine.

And then… like Kryptonite to Superman are those early morning wakings. Have no fear! I’ll help you win that battle as well.

Please make sure you are blocking out any and all sunlight (I love these black out shades). Even a small amount of light creeping through the window can cause those tiny eyes to open. Also, keep your sound machine up loud enough to drown out any early morning extraneous sounds.

Even with these things in place, some babies do get stuck waking WAY TOO EARLY! It’s brutal. Now let me say this, if you are struggling because your baby is waking after 6-6:30am. I’m sorry. That’s a pretty normal waking hour for a baby. However, prior to 6:00am, we can improve upon.

If your baby is waking at, say 5:30am and is happy, allow him to talk to himself, play with his toes, sing his good morning song without you going in. Each morning, try to wait a bit longer and longer before entering his room. If you immediately go in, you are inadvertently reinforcing early morning wakings. But, if you can delay going in there until after 6am (or as late as possible), your baby will slowly begin to adjust to the later wake times.

But what if your baby is not having it? Your baby is up at 5:30am and is screaming her face off. This is NOT a lovely way to start your day or hers. This is when we use darkness to positively impact our early morning.

If your baby wakes up and is adamant about starting her day at 5-5:30am, go into her room. Sit at her crib and try to calm her. If she insists upon being held, hold her in the dark. Keep the talking to a minimum and delay the morning feeding. Do not bring your phone into her room (that’s LIGHT!). Hold her off from feeding and light exposure for 10 minutes then take her out to the living room, turn on the lights and feed her. Each morning, try to hold out just a bit longer and longer. Our goal is to slowly help reset her internal alarm clock.

And Finally…

4. Be patient. It takes time to adjust to a clock change. Try to go with the flow and watch YOUR baby’s sleep cues. If your baby needs a mini cat-nap in the late afternoon as her schedule is being shifted, allow it. Remember, she’s human and not a clock. She will adjust. Just give her some grace… and while you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself some too. You’ve got this, Mom!

Cara Dumaplin

Cara Dumaplin

Founder

Cara Dumaplin is not a blogger. She is, however, a mom to four kids who keep her laughing daily. Although she swore she would never date a doctor, it is with joy that she admits marrying her husband, a pediatrician, was the beginning of a crazy-amazing life together. (Albeit, she has had to learn to forgive him for constantly feeding their kids Pop-Tarts for breakfast.) A registered nurse with 18 years experience, Cara’s eyes light up when she discusses her passion of educating, encouraging, and empowering new parents.  Follow Taking Cara Babies on Facebook or Instagram for helpful baby sleep tips, successful infant sleep stories, and a glimpse into this chaotic, yet blessed life. For more blogs by Cara, you can click HERE.

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