How do I prepare for Daylight Savings?

general toddler troubleshooting Oct 25, 2021

    My name is Mica. I am a certified sleep consultant and founder of Rested Mama, Happy Baby. I help families on their journey to establish healthy sleep habits and get the whole family sleeping again! 

   Are you ready to “fall back”?  I remember, pre-baby, how much I cherished this day because it meant I got an extra hour of sleep.  Post-baby, it doesn’t quite mean that anymore!  Daylight savings sometimes sneaks up on us and can cause some sleep questions when trying to adjust your child’s sleep to the shift in time.  


   While every child is different, there can be a lot on the line when we are talking about a schedule change.  Just like time zone changes, shifts in time can affect sleeping and circadian rhythms throwing off schedules.  For days or weeks, it can be a bit of a snowball effect shifting the schedule causing short naps, early morning wakings, and multiple wake-ups. If you’ve read my other blogs, you know that these can all cause an overtired child which is the enemy of good sleep.

   Is every child impacted by daylight savings?  No, absolutely not!  Find out how sensitive your child is to schedule changes and that will help you determine the best approach to preparing.


 The Basics:

   In any case, however, make sure that you have the basics in place while you transition and through transitions.  Here are the top 3 basics:


1. Dark Room:

   Make sure you have a dark room!  Daylight savings usually means you will see a peak of light a little earlier than normal as it starts to get darker a bit earlier in the evenings.  Light can be your child’s sleep enemy as melatonin is already at its lowest between the hours of 3 am and 5 am.  Light impacts the production of melatonin and can exacerbate early morning wakings.  Making sure you black out your windows in your child’s sleep space by using either blackout curtains or even black trash bags can really help with the transition.


2. Get Natural Light during the DAY!

   Get as much natural light as possible!  On the flip side, since it will get darker a lot sooner, that can cause some sleepy evenings when it’s not quite bedtime.  Utilizing the light during the day in the afternoon can help your child make it to bedtime that may seem a little later for them than usual.


3. Plan Ahead!

   Start making changes a WEEK before daylight savings!

3 Approaches:


1. If your child is a solid sleeper…

   Do nothing!  Yes, your child might wake a little earlier than usual, but if you have a solid sleeper, you may be better off simply reacting to the daylight savings shift by adjusting your schedule the day of the time shift.  Keep in mind, I do not recommend this for children younger than 4 months who have extremely short wake times.  You can follow these tips if your child falls in this category:

  1. Allow your child to normally wake up any time before desired wake time (i.e. if it’s 6 am before daylight savings, you will have desired wake time at 6 am of the new adjusted time).  Your child may very well wake up at the new 6 am time!
  2. If your child does wake earlier, do your best to keep them in the room and back to sleep until the new time. You can either give them a bit of a pause and see if they sleep longer, or go in to help them continue their sleep cycle.  
  3. If your child does not fall back asleep, it’s OKAY!  Keep them in their dark sleep space, and do not bring them out in light to feed until it’s time. 
  4. Continue your first nap of the day at the usual scheduled time.  If your child woke up early, you can bring up the first nap about 30 mins and shift your schedule the rest of the day up by 30 mins.
  5. The next 2-3 days, attempt to move out the schedule 15-20 mins at a time every couple of days until you’ve made up your hour and you are back on track!


2. If your child is a solid sleeper, and has age-appropriate waketimes closer to 2.5-3 hours…

  1. Follow steps above 1-4
  2. You may be able to push your waketimes for the remaining naps to accommodate for the hour and stick to that transitioned time as much as you can for at least 3 days.
  3. If you have short naps, temporarily attempt to connect them to avoid overtiredness.


3. If your child is sensitive to schedule changes, or still has disruptive nights...

  1. Start planning a week before daylight savings to slowly adjust your schedule.
  2. In the morning (7 days before daylight savings) keep your child in their sleep space about 15-20 mins later than usual.  If they are used to waking at 6 am, try to avoid feeding and keep them in their crib/room till 6:15 am.  (If your child sleeps till 6:15 am, great!  Continue your adjusted schedule as normal)
  3. Move your entire schedule by 15 days for this day.
  4. Extend all naps under 1 hour to avoid overtiredness if needed.
  5. Add another 15 mins to the wakeup time and schedule every 2-3 days until you’ve made up your hour and you are back on track!

   If you struggle to transition, don’t worry!  Shifting your child’s full cycle can be difficult and sometimes very awkward.  If you run into a wonky nap day or an early morning waking, just stick to the consistency of your routine/schedule and allow yourself some grace and time to get things back on track.  


   To give you a little boost, I’ve created a step-by-step list of what you can do by day to start your transition through daylight savings!  Click HERE to grab our FREE guide!


Sleep is around the corner, 

Rested Mama, Happy Baby Founder

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