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Spring Forward - Adjusting Baby Sleep for Daylight Savings

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Cara Dumaplin

babies dressed as bunnies for daylight savings time spring forward

The combination of Daylight Savings Time and baby sleep can cause stress for many families. I know it feels as though this time adjustment was created to wreak havoc in our lives, but I actually have some really good news about the springtime Daylight Savings adjustment. If your baby is an early riser, adjusting the clock an hour later just solved your problem. What used to be a 5:30am wake time will now be a 6:30am wake time!

Head to my blog on Daylight Savings: Fall Back and your Baby’s Sleep if you’re worried about Daylight Savings ending in the fall.

How to adjust your baby’s sleep for Daylight Savings starting in the spring:

Plan #1: Just “Spring Forward” with your whole schedule.

That means you’ll essentially do nothing. Simply forget the time has changed and maintain your normal routine.

Allow your baby to wake at his normal wake time, which will naturally be an hour later on the clock. So, if you had a 6:00 am wake time and a 7:00 pm bedtime, following the clock change, you’ll have a 7:00 am wake time and an 8:00 pm bedtime. Voilà, that was easy!

Saturday (Before time change) Sunday (After time change)
Wake 6:00 am 7:00 am (new time)
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours
Nap 1 9:00–10:30 am 10:00–11:30 am (new time)
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours
Nap 2 1:30–3:00 pm 2:30–4:00 pm (new time)
Wake Window 4 hours 4 hours
Bedtime 7:00 pm 8:00 pm (new time)

 

For some, Plan #1 is just not feasible. There are families who have to be out the door at a certain time in the morning so allowing the baby to “sleep in” just isn’t possible.

Another scenario where this wouldn’t work is for babies who have a bedtime of 8 pm or later. Let me explain why: Most babies have a “sweet spot” bedtime of 7:00-8:00 pm. After 8:00-8:30 pm, babies and toddlers get a “second wind” and become overtired. If we did nothing with the schedule, an 8:00 pm bedtime will soon be a 9:00 pm bedtime after the time change. This is simply too late for most babies. It can cause multiple night wakings and even earlier mornings.

This leads us to Plan #2.

Plan #2: Adjust very gradually.

The week before the time change, adjust your baby’s entire schedule by 10 minutes each day.

Here’s the plan: Wake your baby 10 minutes earlier than normal each morning. (I know, this will hurt your heart!) Aim for bedtime 10 minutes earlier each day too.

After the time change on Sunday, you will have your exact schedule intact.

Current "Typical" Schedule Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday After Clock Change
Wake 7:00 am 6:50 am 6:40 am 6:30 am 6:20 am 6:10 am 7:00 am*
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours
Nap 1 10:00–11:30 am 9:50–11:20 am 9:40–11:10 am 9:30–11:00 am 9:20–10:50 am 9:10–10:40 am 10:00–11:30 am
Wake Window 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours
Nap 2 2:30–4:00 pm 2:30–3:50 pm 2:10–3:40 pm 2:00–3:30 pm 1:50–3:20 pm 1:40–3:10 pm 2:30–4:00 pm
Wake Window 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours
Bedtime 8:00 pm 7:50 pm 7:40 pm 7:30 pm 7:20 pm 7:10 pm 8:00 pm*

 

If you are following wake windows, maintain them throughout the day, just like you normally do, but base them off your earlier wake time. Ensure bedtime is ten minutes earlier.

If you have set nap times, you’ll simply shift each nap 10 minutes earlier each day.

Plan #3: Adjust over the weekend.

On Sunday morning after the time change, go wake your baby 30 minutes early. Please note: the time on the clock will look 30 minutes later, but to your baby, this feels 30 minutes earlier. I know that sounds confusing, so I created this helpful chart for you.

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

 

If you are following wake windows, maintain them throughout the day, just like you normally do, but base them off your earlier wake time. Ensure bedtime is thirty minutes earlier (again, looks like 30 minutes later). If you have set nap times, put your baby down 30 minutes earlier for all naps and 30 minutes earlier for bedtime too.

You can slightly adjust her schedule as needed throughout the week.

No matter what solution you pick, let me share my 4 best tips to help you adjust to your new schedule as seamlessly as possible:

1. Light

Light exposure is your #1 tool to help adjust your baby’s schedule. Get outside in the sunshine (especially in the early morning and early afternoon). An hour before bedtime, do just the opposite. Pull the curtains, dim the lights, and turn off the television. Invest in some good blackout curtains. Just a bit of light seeping into the bedroom at bedtime and in those early morning hours can truly impact sleep. If you don’t have blackout curtains, dark sheets or even black construction paper taped over the windows can work too. (No matter what you use, make sure your window coverings are out of your baby’s reach.)

2. Routine

You likely already know how important a bedtime routine can be for helping to cue your baby’s brain that sleep is imminent. For example, let’s say your bedtime routine goes something like this: dim the lights, offer a bedtime feeding, swaddle or put on a sleep sack, and read a book before you put your baby down in the crib. Maintain this routine! This is often way more important in cueing your little one that it’s bedtime than the hour hand on a clock.

Don’t have a bedtime routine yet? You can start today!

3. Patience

Be patient. It takes time to adjust to a clock change. Try to go with the flow and watch YOUR baby’s sleepy cues. If he needs a mini cat-nap in the late afternoon as his schedule is being shifted, allow it. If bedtime needs to happen just a bit earlier or later, that’s okay. Remember, he’s a human, not a clock. He will adjust. Just give him some grace, and while you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself some too. 

4. More Help

If sleep is tough for you outside of just this time change, I have classes that can help. My newborn class for babies under 12 weeks is a no-cry approach that will help you lay those foundational sleep skills with your new baby. For babies in the 3-4 month phase, Navigating Months 3 & 4 is an e-book that helps you continue to establish or start a healthy sleep foundation during this tricky age. If your baby is over 5 months, The 5-24 Month Collection will give you everything you need for great sleep, including days, nights, and every bump along your sleep journey.

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