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Daylight Savings: Fall Back and Your Baby’s Sleep

Posted on . Last updated .

mom looking at baby wondering why she is up so early after daylight savings

Are you worried about how falling back and daylight savings will affect your baby's sleep? Let me show you three ways to shift your baby's sleep schedule for the end of daylight savings to help you adjust smoothly and prevent early mornings.

Option 1: The week prior to the time change, start your morning 10 minutes later each day. 

The Tuesday before the clock change, start your morning 10 minutes later than on Monday. Each day that week, shift another 10 minutes later. Wake windows stay the same; nap lengths can stay the same. This truly just shifts your entire day 10 minutes later on the clock.

Example of 2 nap schedule:

Current "Typical" Schedule Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday After Clock Change
Wake 6:30 am 6:40 am* 6:50 am* 7:00 am* 7:10 am* 7:20 am* 6:30 am*
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours
Nap 1 9:30–11:00 am 9:40–11:10 am 9:50–11:20 am 10:00–11:30 am 10:10–11:40 am 10:20–11:50 am 9:30–11:00 am
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours
Nap 2 2:00–3:30 pm 2:10–3:40 pm 2:20–3:50 pm 2:30–4:00 pm 2:40–4:10 pm 2:50–4:20 pm 2:00–3:30 pm
Wake Window 3.5 hours 3.5 hours 3.5 hours 3.5 hours 3.5 hours 3.5 hours 3.5 hours
Bedtime 7:00 pm 7:10 pm 7:20 pm 7:30 pm 7:40 pm 7:50 pm 7:00 pm

Example of 1 nap schedule:

Current "Typical" Schedule Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday After Clock Change
Wake 6:00 am 6:10 am* 6:20 am* 6:30 am* 6:40 am* 6:50 am* 6:00 am*
Wake Window 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours
Nap 1 8:00–9:30 am 8:10–9:40 am 8:20–9:50 am 8:30–10:00 am 8:40–10:10 am 8:50–10:20 am 8:00–9:30 am
Wake Window 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours
Nap 2 12:00–1:30 pm 12:10–1:40 pm 12:20–1:50 pm 12:30–2:00 pm 12:40–2:10 pm 12:50–2:20 pm 12:00–1:30 pm
Wake Window 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours
Nap 3 4:00–4:30 pm 4:10–4:40 pm 4:20–4:50 pm 4:30–5:00 pm 4:40–5:10 pm 4:50–5:20 pm 4:00–4:30 pm
Wake Window 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours 2.5 hours
Bedtime 7:00 pm 7:10 pm 7:20 pm 7:30 pm 7:40 pm 7:50 pm 7:00 pm

 

Example of 1 nap schedule:

Current "Typical" Schedule Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday After Clock Change
Wake 6:30 am 6:40 am* 6:50 am* 7:00 am* 7:10 am* 7:20 am* 6:30 am*
Wake Window 5.5 hours 5.5 hours 5.5 hours 5.5 hours 5.5 hours 5.5 hours 5.5 hours
Nap 12:00–2:30 pm 12:10–2:40 pm 12:20–2:50 pm 12:30–3:00 pm 12:40–3:10 pm 12:50–3:20 pm 12:00–2:30 pm
Wake Window 4.5 hours 4.5 hours 4.5 hours 4.5 hours 4.5 hours 4.5 hours 4.5 hours
Bedtime 7:00 pm 7:10 pm 7:20 pm 7:30 pm 7:40 pm 7:50 pm 7:00 pm

*If you start to adjust your schedule this way and your little one won’t sleep until the wake time listed above, just hold your baby in his dark room. When your baby reaches the designated wake time, turn on all the lights, open the curtains, change him out of jammies, offer your morning feeding, and start your day.

I understand your nap times may vary daily. This is SO normal. Remember the schedule above is just an example.

Simply keep these goals in mind:

  • Hold firm to starting your morning 10 minutes later on the clock each day.

  • Maintain your normal wake windows.

  • Bedtime should naturally shift about 10 minutes later on the clock each day.

Option 2: The weekend of the time change, expand each wake window by 5-15 minutes.

For the weekend of the time change, help your baby stay awake just a little bit longer before putting him down for each nap. We’re not trying to push your baby to overtired, which can actually result in poor naps or rough nights. Instead, we just want to add an extra 5-15 minutes to each wake window.

Let’s look at an example:

This baby normally has wake windows between 3 hours and 3 hours 30 minutes. For just this weekend, we’re going to aim for wake windows between 3 hours 10 minutes and 3 hours 40 minutes.

"Typical" Schedule Saturday Sunday Monday (resume "typical" schedule)
Wake 6:30 am 6:30 am 6:00 am (new time) 6:30 am
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours 10 minutes 3 hours 10 minutes 3 hours
Nap 1 9:30–11:00 am 9:40–11:10 am 9:10–10:40 am (new time) 9:30–11:00 am
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours 10 minutes 3 hours 10 minutes 3 hours
Nap 2 2:00–3:30 pm 2:20–3:50 pm 1:50–3:20 pm (new time) 2:00–3:30 pm
Wake Window 3.5 hours 3 hours 40 minutes 3 hours 40 minutes 3.5 hours
Bedtime 7:00 pm 7:30 pm 7:00 pm (new time) 7:00 pm

 

Do you see how each wake window is just slightly longer than normal? This helps us to gradually work towards a later bedtime.

Expert tip: On Sunday, if your baby is exhausted and ready for bed at 6:30pm (when bedtime is typically 7:00pm), that’s okay! Go ahead and put your baby to bed. She will likely sleep later than if you push her to overtired.

Option 3: Keep your baby’s routine exactly the same. 

(The clock time is the only thing changing.)

Some parents find that maintaining their baby’s routine is easier. These families simply have a summer bedtime and a winter bedtime. It works for them!

Here’s what that might look like:

Saturday (before time change) Monday (resume "typical" schedule)
Wake 7:00 am 6:00 am (new time)
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours
Nap 1 10:10–11:30 am 9:00–10:30 am (new time)
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours
Nap 2 2:30–4:00 pm 1:30–3:00 pm (new time)
Wake Window 4 hours 4 hours
Bedtime 8:00 pm 7:00 pm (new time)

SPECIAL NOTE FOR PARENTS WITH BABIES 4 MONTHS AND YOUNGER:

Please understand that your little one will be more sensitive to adding extra awake time. We also know that, at this age, melatonin isn’t regulated in your baby’s body. To help meet your baby right where he or she is developmentally, try these strategies after the time change for helping to shift that bedtime later:

  • After the time change, try adding an extra cat nap in your day.
  • Help your baby to extend naps throughout the day by rocking, snuggling, or babywearing.

No matter which plan you choose, be sure to:

1) Maintain a consistent bedtime routine.

A bedtime routine doesn’t have to be complicated; it just needs to be the same each and every night.

For example: bath, jammies, feeding, book, then to the crib.

This simple pattern prepares your baby for sleep no matter what time the clock is reading.

2) Use light and darkness!

During awake time, expose your baby to daylight. Get out of the house! Go for a walk. Eat breakfast on the patio. Open your blinds. Turn on all the lights in your house. Exposure to light early in the day helps produce the sleepy hormone, melatonin, for sleep that night. Light in the afternoon and evening can help your baby stay awake until bedtime.

When it’s time for your naptime or bedtime routine, you’ll want to dim those lights. Then, turn them off completely when you lay your baby down for sleep. Make sure to keep it pitch dark until it’s time to start your day. Even a small amount of light creeping in through the window can cause those tiny eyes to open.

Light and darkness truly does impact sleep.

3) Pile on the grace.

It takes time to adjust to a clock change. Try to go with the flow. Remember, your baby is a human and not a clock: she will adjust in her own time. Getting baby’s schedule back to “normal” can reasonably take up to two weeks.

Just give your little one some grace… and while you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself some too. You’ve got this!

4) Know help is available if you need it!

Please remember the falling back daylight savings adjustment is about shifting your baby’s sleep schedule and circadian rhythm. This is tough!

If you've shifted your baby's schedule and you are seeing early mornings, I have a blog for you. If your struggle is bigger than just early wakings, please know I have classes to meet you right where you are. I’ll give you the step-by-step guidance you need to set your days and nights up for success!

 

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