Fall is upon us. The leaves are changing, air is crisp, the boots have come out of their closets, and everything is sprinkled with pumpkin spice. While most people are planning for the upcoming holiday season and looking forward to the end of Daylight Savings time, parents everywhere are realizing they will be exempt from the possibility of sleeping in an extra hour and lamenting the need for an early morning run for a pumpkin spice latte.
Since you’re reading this, I’m assuming you fall into the latter group: tired parent searching for how to handle your baby’s sleep during the time change. Let us give you a few professional tips.
TIPS for all children:
- Decide on a plan (choices described below)
- Make sure your baby gets out during the day- grey skies or not, outside time will help with circadian rhythms
- Have patience, we all take time to adjust
- Pour yourself some coffee. Any coffee.
Potential Plans to address the End of Daylight Savings
The “Intentional” Plan
This approach is for parents that want to plan ahead for the time change. This is great if you have time, patience and want to be proactive. That said, we call this the intentional plan because most parents “intend” to do this, and then they don’t. But, I’ll continue assuming you’re not in that group.
Around 4-5 days before the time change, start moving your baby’s bedtime later by about 15 minutes each night and naps the following day 15 minutes later. If bedtime is 7:00, the first night you’ll put baby to bed at 7:15. The first nap will be about 15 minutes later than usual. Bedtime night two will be 7:30.
By the time you get to the date of the time change bedtime will be a full hour later than normal (8pm instead of 7pm). This will put the entire right back to normal when we lose an hour of time.
This approach is perfect for babies between 4-8 months, and families that don’t have to have specific wake up times during the shift.
The “More Likely Plan” aka: What happens for most people
Even the most well-intentioned families can have the time change sneak up on them or not have life organized enough to make the intentional plan work. So this is for everyone else that is going to just “wing it.” No plan for older babies, this is easier since they can handle larger shifts.
Here’s what having no plan looks like:
You’ll change your clocks and baby will wake at what feels like their normal time- but it will be an hour early. You’ll get up with them, pour that coffee and do your best for a couple of days until they reset. Yes, really that’s it. But here are the tips that will help out.
First, know that it takes 2-3 days for you and your baby to naturally adjust to the new time. It will happen. Refer back to the universal tips above (fresh air and coffee).
Second, beginning the first morning, try to keep your baby awake until their normal nap time if they can. It’ll feel like an extra hour later for them. If they can’t make it all the way to what would be their normal nap time on the clock, that’s ok.
Need an example?
Baby wakes when the new clock setting says 6am, which is their normal 7am. If your baby’s nap time is usually 9am, then you’ll try to keep baby up until the clock says 9am even though that feels like 10am to your baby. If they can’t make it all the way, then that’s ok. They’ll get back onto the old schedule within a few days.
Best of luck, and see you in the coffee line!