Child Sleep and Daylight Savings (Spring Forward)

3 Ways To Help Your Child Adjust to The New Time

By Diana Blanco. Founder, Smooth Parenting.

The beginning of daylight savings is getting closer and many parents are wondering what to do to maintain their baby or toddler’s sleep habits, despite the time change. We ‘spring forward’ to Daylight Savings Time (DST) on Sunday, March 11th 2018* at 2a.m. by setting our clock forward one hour. This means clocks are moved forward by one hour at 2:00a.m. standard time, and the time becomes 3:00a.m. daylight savings time (DST).

Child sleep challenges are not uncommon during daylight savings time adjustments. Still, there are some general tips that you can follow to have a smoother transition, regardless on how you decide to adjust your child’s schedule to the new time:

  • Continue your bedtime and naptime routines. The regular and familiar routines you follow when putting your baby to sleep should be maintained.
  • Keep your baby’s nursery dark, so the daylight (and nightlight) changes do not interfere with his/her sleep.
  • Carry on promoting positive sleep associations.
  • Remember that consistency is still key.

In addition to these measures, there are three basic approaches we can follow to help children with the transition, that you will find below.

Those of you with “early risers” will probably be better off not doing any adjustments in your child’s schedule. Your child will automatically start waking up 1 hour later (according to the new time – DST), which will probably be a blessing to you.

1. Gradual ‘Pre- Spring Forward Day’ Transition

On Wednesday, March 7th, you do two things:

1st) Wake up your child’s 15 minutes earlier, from her last nap of the day. For example if her last nap of the day is usually from 12:30pm to 2:30pm. On Wednesday, March 7th, she should sleep from 12:30pm (same time), to 2:15pm (you wake her up 15 minutes earlier than usual).

2nd) Move your child’s bedtime back 15 minutes each night. For example, if your child’s normal bedtime is 7pm. On Wednesday, March 7th, she should go to sleep at 6:45pm, 15 minutes earlier than usual.

Your child’s whole daily schedule the following day moves back those 15 minutes.

This way, you will have shifted your baby’s schedule back by one hour by the time you have to move your clock forward one hour. Therefore, your baby would be in his normal schedule the first day of the Daylight Savings Time.

See the chart below for guidance. Note that this chart assumes child’s current bedtime is 7pm and waking time is 7am.

Date Transition Steps Current Time (Standard Time) New Time (Daylight Savings Time)
Wednesday, March 7th Wake up your baby from her last nap of the day 15 minutes before than usual. If she normally wakes up at 2:30pm, wake her up at 2:15pm. 2:15pm 3:15pm
Move back your baby’s bedtime by 15 minutes (From your usual 7:00pm to 6:45pm) 6:45pm 7:45pm
Thursday, March 8th Move back your baby’s daily schedule those 15 minutes, from the night before. 6:45am 7:45am
Move back your baby’s bedtime another 15 minutes. 6:30pm 7:30pm
Friday, March 9th Move back your baby’s daily schedule those 15 minutes from the night before. 6:30am 7:30am
Move back your baby’s bedtime another 15 minutes. 6:15pm 7:15pm
Saturday, March 10th (Spring Forward Night) Move back your baby’s daily schedule those 15 minutes from the night before. 6:15am 7:15am
Move back your baby’s bedtime another 15 minutes. 6:00pm 7:00pm
Sunday, March 11th (First Day in Daylight Savings) Regular waking time 7:00am, under the new time (DST) 6:00am(Doesn’t Apply) 7:00am

2. Gradual ‘Post- Spring Forward Day’ Transition

The day after the daylight savings time starts, Sunday, March 11th 2018, your baby will most likely wake up one hour later than usual (based on the clock).

That day, you have to wake her up 45 minutes later than her regular schedule. For example, if her regular waking time under ST was 7am, with DST that becomes 8am. However, you will not let her sleep until then. The first morning after the DST change, let her sleep only until 7:45am (45 later than her regular waking time).

Starting then you should make sure your child’s naptime and bedtime are 45 minutes later than her regular schedule the first day; 30 minutes later the second day; 15 minutes later the third day; and by the fourth day, she will be adjusted to the new time.

The whole daily schedule adjusts to those changes accordingly. By doing this, your child would be going to sleep and waking up at his regular times, based on the Daylight Savings Time, by Wednesday March 14th.

See the chart below for guidance. Note that this chart assumes baby’s current bedtime is 7pm and waking time is 7am.

Date Transition Steps Current Time (Standard Time) New Time(Daylight Savings Time)
Sunday, March 11th (Daylight Savings Time in Place since 2am) Let your baby sleep 45 minutes over her regular waking time (7am in our example) 6:45am(Doesn’t apply!) 7:45am(This is the current time this day)
Move your child’s bedtime 45 minutes later than her regular bedtime (7pm in our example) 6:45pm 7:45pm
Monday, March 12th Let your baby sleep 30 minutes over her regular waking time (7am in our example) 6:30am 7:30am
Move your child’s bedtime 30 minutes later than her regular bedtime (7pm in our example) 6:30pm 7:30pm
Tuesday, March 13th Let your baby sleep 15 minutes over her regular waking time (7am in our example) 6:15am 7:15am
Move your child’s bedtime 15 minutes later than her regular bedtime (7pm in our example) 6:15pm 7:15pm
Wednesday, March 14th Wake your child up at her regular waking time (7am in our example). Continue the day with your child’s regular schedule. 6:00am(Doesn’t apply! Old Time) 7:00am

3. Immediate Transition

The day after the daylight savings time starts, you follow your baby’s regular schedule based on the Daylight Savings Time. Therefore, on Sunday March 11th, 2018 you switch your child ‘cold turkey’ to the new time and follow her regular schedule.

You will most certainly have to wake your child up in the morning, since for her it’d be one hour too early, and go on with her day as usual. This option tends to be harder on children since (like adults) they would be ‘loosing’ one hour of sleep the first day.

Regardless of the approach you decide to take, remember that every child is different and they will adjust differently to changes in their sleep schedule. It takes several days to adjust to the new times, so be prepared for your baby to want to wake up later than usual on occasions, to be crankier than usual during the afternoon, and/or to be sleepier during the first days of the transition.

Be patient, loving and consistent to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

Much love, Diana-

 

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*2018 Daylight Savings starts:

  • Sunday, March 11th at 2 a.m. in the United States and Canada
  • Sunday, March 25th at 2 a.m. in most parts of Europe
  • Sunday, April 1st at 3 a.m. in most countries of the South Hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand…)

For a full list of the DST start dates around the globe, click here: http://www.worldtimezone.com/daylight.html

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