Ahhh, daylight savings!
Adjusting the clocks twice a year is simple enough, however your little one is not a clock. When you change the time backwards or forwards by one hour they might not adjust their sleep to match their new awake time and bedtime.
Some babies will be more affected than others. Usually, newborns have the ability to sleep almost anywhere and anytime. As long as days and nights are established, you may find they automatically adjust to the new time as long as they are not hungry or overtired.
Older babies and young children are the most affected, however this usually only lasts from a few days to two weeks.
What can happen?
During this adjustment period, your little one may become overtired because they are finding it harder to fall asleep at night because it is lighter than before. They also might struggle to be relaxed during the bedtime routine or fight the bedtime routine since light outside to them simply means it’s playtime!
Your child also might adjust their routine automatically. This happens as it is darker in the mornings, which may cause them to sleep in. They will then seek a later bedtime because they won’t be tired at the usual time. If this happens – lucky you! You can leave them at this new time or you can go through the steps below to help adjust the routine back to times that suit you.
Tips for success
1. Preparation – having a clear plan in place is going to make a huge difference. Reading this article is a great place to start. Make a plan to suit you and stick to it rather than dealing with a cranky little one for a month.
2. Have a good bedtime routine – one of the strategies to combat daylight savings is gradually changing bedtime. If you have a good routine set up initially this becomes so much easier as you start the routine earlier, cueing to your little one that sleep is coming.
3. Consistency and perseverance – over the first few days it is likely your little one will resist awake time or bedtime. Try to stick to your usual rules surrounding bedtime protests.
Even though this section is called ‘the plan,’ no set plan will fit absolutely everyone. This is just an example you can alter to suit you.
A simple strategy is to reset your little one’s body clock about a week beforehand (or whenever you happen to read this, you can start). Adjust the times to match your average day.
For example, if their usual day runs from roughly 7am – 7pm you would aim to:
¨ Night 1 a Wake 7am a Bedtime 7pm
¨ Night 2 a Wake 6:45am a Bedtime 6:45pm
¨ Night 3 a Wake 6:30am a Bedtime 6:30pm
¨ Night 4 a Wake 6:15am a Bedtime 6:15pm
¨ Night 5 a Wake 6am a Bedtime 6pm
¨ Night 6 a Wake 7am (new time) a Bedtime 7pm (new time)
Night 6 is actually the exact same as night 5 but the clocks are changed overnight. Change your clocks on Night 5 (align night 5 with the start of daylights savings time).
What else can help?
A super easy way to improve your chances of success is using blackout shades. Light is the number #1 change daylight savings achieves, so to avoid a battle over missing out on fun in the sun simply block all light out. This also means they will find it easier in a few months when the clocks revert back, and they start waking up at 5am because the sun is up.
Secondly, the use of positive sleep associations makes all bedtime changes easier. The use of these lets your child know that it is bedtime. If they wake up during the night, it reminds them that it is STILL bedtime. Some positive associations include:
· Ongoing white noise
· A lovey/comforter (if it's safe)
Like anything to do with your little one, trust your gut and go with what you think is best. Be aware that it does take a few days to two weeks to adjust, so persist with whatever you plan to try.
Patience is key while you adjust to a clock change. Try to go with the flow and watch YOUR baby’s sleep cues (we have a blog post on this!). If your little one needs a little cat nap in the late afternoon as their schedule is adjusting, allow it. If bedtime needs to be a little earlier or later, that’s okay.
If you are experiencing problems with your babies sleep that go beyond a simple fix, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
We offer free 15 minute phone consultations and would love to help.