It seems like just yesterday I was writing about the end of Daylight Savings Time. And here we are, about to face another time change.
Spring is a beautiful time in Texas – right before the weather becomes unbearable. There are a few rainy days, my family tends to gather for Easter, and everything is bright and green.
But for some, the thought of changing the clocks can be anything but serene.
Today I’m going to share your step-by-step guide to navigating daylight savings time so that your child can continue to thrive and your whole household can get the sleep they need.
Now, I’m not a planner and usually forget about daylight savings until the day of, so I’m not going to give you a plan that involves doing anything weeks before. I personally would want a plan that I can implement that day and rip the bandaid off, essentially.
So let’s get into it! How can you help your child transition to the new time without leaving either of you overly exhausted?
Note: if you have a newborn (in my book, a newborn is considered 1 day old to 3 months old), this doesn’t apply to you. Skip down to the bottom of this post for tips specific to your child.
The Night Before Time Change
Chances are, your phone (and maybe even clocks) will automatically update with the new time overnight, so you don’t need to worry about doing that. However, if the thought of waking up an hour later creates some anxiety, you may want to turn your clocks around so you don’t see them when you wake up in the morning. I don’t know about you, but when I wake up later than normal, I feel like my whole day is a bit off.
Because, although your phone will get the memo that the time is changing, your child’s body won’t. And they’ll wake up after their usual night of sleep, which will look like it’s an hour later to you.
The night before the time change, the biggest thing you’ll want to consider is light. If your child’s room has a window, you’ll want to consider covering it with black out curtains.
When it comes to room darkness, light can absolutely interfere with your child’s sleep. And if the sun comes up a bit earlier where you are, your child can end up waking up at their “normal according to the clock time,” which will actually be one hour earlier than their body needed. And this could create an unhappy babe throughout the day.
The room doesn’t have to be pitch black, but on a scale of 1-10, you want to aim for about an 8.
The Day of the Time Change (Sunday)
When your child wakes up at their “normal” time, it will seem like it’s an hour later, but their bodies (and hopefully yours) will feel just fine and ready to start the day. So go ahead and do that.
Eat breakfast, drink coffee, enjoy your little one as much as you can.
When it comes to Spring DST, my philosophy is this:
Your child will adapt. It’s nothing that you need to stress over. In fact, for some families, having a later schedule is a good thing.
Maybe your little one normally woke at 6:30 am every day, so you gladly welcome this new 7:30 am wake up. Or maybe your child went to sleep around 7 pm every night, but you’re craving an 8 pm bedtime now that summer is approaching.
If that’s you, you don’t have to do anything. Carry on.
If you need your child on a specific schedule, like for school, or you want to keep their schedule as is, here is your game plan:
- You will put your baby down for naps 30 minutes earlier than they are used to. This will look like 30 minutes later on the clock. For example, if your baby takes their first nap at 9:30 am, you will put your baby down for their nap at 10:00 am today. This looks like it’s 30 minutes later, but their body will register it as 30 minutes earlier. Continue that for all naps.
- For bedtime, put baby down 30 minutes earlier, although this will appear 30 minutes later. If bedtime is normally 7:30 pm, you will put them to bed at 8:00 pm.
Continue this new schedule for about 3-5 days. Then, you can revert back to your typical schedule.
Newborn Tips for Daylight Savings Time
The reason newborns might not be able to swing the outlined plan above is because their wake windows are normally 30-90 minutes. And if your little one is used to taking a nap 45 minutes after they wake up, they won’t have enough sleep pressure if you try putting them down only after 15 minutes.
At this age, you probably aren’t following a clock schedule — you’re probably just following their lead and putting them to bed when they seem tired.
And depending on your child, they may or may not have a predictable pattern of sleep and wake times.
So how do you handle daylight savings time with a newborn?
Act as if it were any other day.
During the day, it’s important to let natural light in so your child’s circadian rhythm can sync back up, but following wake windows will be key in helping prevent overtiredness.
- If your child is a newborn, you don’t need to change their schedule since they aren’t really on a schedule. Continue to follow their wake windows to prevent overtiredness.
- If you would actually prefer your child to wake up an hour later for scheduling purposes, then do nothing and adjust their nap and bedtime to an hour later than what it normally was. Technically, this is the same time, but it will appear as an hour later.
- In other cases, you will bump naptime and bedtime back by 30 minutes (although this will feel like 30 minutes earlier to your child’s body) for 3-5 days. After 3-5 days, you can go back to following the clock for your child’s schedule.
Have questions about daylight savings time or need guidance on a specific sleep situation? Comment below!