From our Director of Early Childhood Intervention, Julie Yocham, MS, LPC-S, LMFT (adapted from original article by Jennifer Kelly Geddes)
Even small seasonal shifts on the clock can mess with your baby’s sleep schedule. Here’s how to handle switching to and from daylight saving time so your little one can stay the course with his regular nighttime routine:
Making the switch to “spring forward” only involves a time change of one hour — but even that can affect your little one’s sleep. Different babies have a range of sleep needs, which means some may not be affected very much while others may need a little time to adjust. Biggest reminder? Don’t get too caught up in your baby adjusting immediately. Most kids tend to settle into the time change within a week or two, so just try to relax and it will work itself out.
How do I prepare my baby or toddler for daylight saving beginning and ending?
There are a few different ways to help babies and toddlers stay in sync with their body clocks, so try these to see which one is best for your child:
- Stay the course. That means changing the clocks as you normally would and nudging your tot to wake, eat, play, nap and go to bed at the usual times according to what the clock says.
- Keep bedtime the same. Babies and toddlers thrive on a solid bedtime routine. This includes a feed, books, cuddling and songs. So, follow yours as usual to show your tot that it’s time to settle down.
- Make the room dark. Unfortunately, you can’t explain to a baby or toddler what daylight saving time is or why it’s still light outside at bedtime (or the reverse when it ends). But you can try to fool your little one’s internal body clock by blocking out the light in his room. Use room-darkening shades, curtains or blinds, and hopefully they’ll help speed up sleep.
- Let the sun shine. On the other hand, light exposure is important in the morning. It signals to babies and toddlers that it’s time to wake up. Open the shades in your baby’s room or turn on the lights when you greet him to start the day.
- Safeguard naps. It’s tempting to shorten, lengthen or even nix a regular nap in order to help your infant or toddler adjust. Yet, it isn’t recommended. Instead, continue to keep any naps your child normally takes
- Adjust gradually. If your little one is sensitive to time changes, slowly shift bedtime and wake-up time a few days before “springing forward” or “falling back.” Try moving the time up or back in 15 min increments every couple of days until you reach the full hour time difference.
- Shorten the routine as needed. Got a tot with droopy eyelids? It’s fine to streamline your daylight saving baby sleep routine on some nights if it makes sense. Skip that extra book or the long song in favor of heading to bed more quickly.
Don’t worry! Things will settle back to normal in a couple of weeks. Try to hang in there and just love on your baby!