TAKING CARA BABIES

Daylight Saving: Fall Back & Your Baby’s Sleep

Cara Dumaplin, Founder

The time has arrived. That time when a line is drawn in the sand between those with and without children: The End of Daylight Savings.

For those without children, this means an extra hour of sleep. For those with littles, it’s a time when we question why there is a conspiracy to mess up our baby’s sleeping schedules and wreak havoc upon our lives.

Have no fear. We will help you find a plan that will work for you!

Here are 3 options:

Option 1: The week prior to Daylight Savings shift your child’s schedule by ten minutes each day. 
That means the Tuesday before you change your clocks, you will adjust your baby’s wake time, nap times, and bedtime to 10 minutes later than normal. Each day that week shift another 10 minutes later.

Example:

*If you start to adjust your schedule this way and your little one won’t sleep until the time listed above, just comfort or hold your baby in his dark room and delay feeding. 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.

Option 2: Adjust over the weekend by shifting your schedule little-by-little over the course of one day. (This is the best option for most daycare families.)

If you are just now finding this blog and/or you don’t have a week to prepare your little one’s body for this transition, please don’t stress. We can still make adjustments to ease this tough change.

On Saturday (the day before the clock change), expose your little one to lots of light. Get outside, play at the park, go for walks, visit the pumpkin patch, jump in piles of leaves, and let sunlight do its job. Help your baby to stay awake 15-30 minutes longer before putting him down for each nap.

Let’s look at an example:

This baby normally has 3-4 hour wake windows. On Saturday, we gradually pushed wake windows to 3.5-4 hours for this one day.

Do you see how the start of each naptime was shifted a little bit later than it typically is? This helps us to gradually work towards a later bedtime.

How do you keep her awake when she’s flashing all the sleepy cues? Be creative! Blast some music and dance around the kitchen, hold her, give her a bath, walk to the mailbox, or simply do whatever it takes to keep her awake a bit longer.

That evening, keep the lights on in the house so that her body is being told that it’s not dark outside. At bedtime, keep her awake 30-60 minutes later than normal. For example, if bedtime is normally 7:15 pm, do whatever it takes to help her make it to 7:45-8:15 pm. On Sunday, follow the clock and try to stick to your normal schedule and wake windows. Resume your normal bedtime. Be consistent and try not to get frustrated, even if the weekend doesn’t go perfectly. It can take a week or two to really conquer this transition.

Option 3: Pretend DST doesn’t exist.

Some parents choose to keep their baby’s routine exactly the same and not alter anything. For a baby who normally goes down at 8:00 pm and awakens at 7:00 am, this means that following the clock change, this baby would have a schedule of going to bed at 7:00 pm and awakening at 6:00 am.

Some parents find that ignoring daylight savings and just keeping their baby’s routine unchanged is easier. These families simply have a summer bedtime and a winter bedtime. It works for them!

No matter which plan you choose, keep in mind these 4 important tips:

1) Maintain a very consistent bedtime routine

If you’ve been following us for long, you already know the importance of cueing 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, feeding, book, 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.

2) LIGHT!

Yes, research has proven 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, that night.

If weather doesn’t permit you to be outside, 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 idea applies for afternoon and early evening. If your baby is cranky at 6:00 pm and you are wondering how he’ll ever make it to bedtime, expose him to light! Turn on the lights inside the house. It really does help. Just remember to dim them once you start your bedtime routine.

3) 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 your baby needs a mini catnap in the late afternoon as her schedule is being shifted, allow it. Remember, she’s human and not a clock. She will adjust in her own time. Getting baby’s schedule back on track can reasonably take up to two weeks. Just give her some grace… and while you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself some too. You’ve got this, Mama!

But make sure you….

4) Know where to turn if you start to struggle with those darn EARLY MORNING WAKINGS!

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. You will also want to keep your sound machine up loud enough to drown out any early morning sounds.

Even with these things in place, some babies do get stuck waking WAY TOO EARLY! It’s brutal. Don’t forget, your baby can take a full two weeks to completely adjust to this time change. It takes you a bit of time too!

If after a couple of weeks you’re still struggling with those early mornings, check out our blog on 10 Culprits for Early Morning Wakings.

Please remember the “Falling Back” adjustment is about shifting your baby’s circadian rhythm; however, baby sleep involves so much more. If your little one is struggling with night wakings and/or naps, please know help is available. We have resources for you no matter your baby’s age.

hey there!

I'm Cara.

I’m a mom of four, neonatal nurse, and wife of a pediatrician. My passion is teaching parents how to help their babies sleep with the science of a nurse and the heart of a mama so they can reclaim the joy of parenthood.

I'm Cara.

I’m a mom of four, neonatal nurse, and wife of a pediatrician. My passion is teaching parents how to help their babies sleep with the science of a nurse and the heart of a mama so they can reclaim the joy of parenthood.

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