The dreaded Daylight Saving Time is just around the corner.
I get many calls around this time every year from parents asking me how to prepare their children for this big shift to their child’s schedule.
What is Daylight Savings?
Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from Standard Time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight.
This fall, it happens to end at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 1st, 2015.
Before you go to bed on Saturday night, remember to “fall back” by setting your clocks back one hour. (The exceptions to DST are Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and American Samoa - source: The Old Farmer's Almanac.)
What Effects will Daylight Savings have on Children?
Newborn babies are usually not effected by the start or finish of Daylight Saving. However older babies and toddlers can be for a week or two and you may have an overtired little one on your hands as a result.
Rather than deal with the effects of daylight savings on Sunday and the following week or two, it is better to prepare your little one a few days before the big shift in their schedule.
How Parents Can Help
Transition at the start and finish of daylight saving is far easier if your baby is in a routine. If your baby or toddler isn't in a routine, there is still time to get organized. At the very least have a consistent bedtime for the next few days, so you can follow the advice below.
If you would like to establish your baby or toddler in a routine before the start of Daylight Savings, contact us for information. We recommend the routine that is provided to you on our Member’s Only page.
Adjusting to the End of Daylight Saving Time
Although adults and older children can usually quickly adapt to a new wake up and sleep time, especially if they are already a little sleep deprived, it can be more difficult for younger children.
After moving the clocks back an hour, children who were used to going to bed 7pm are likely to be ready to go to bed at 6 pm. While that may be okay, they may then be likely to wake up at 6am – which may not be OK!!
Be proactive and prepare for the clocks going back. This should minimize the interference to your baby's sleep and help them adjust much quicker.
Try and adjust the schedule from the first feed of the day by 15 mins each day (see below). If your baby can't last first thing in the morning, just try to make the routine adjustments as the day goes on. To know what is a good overall schedule look like, check out our S.E.A Schedules.
Assuming a 7pm Bedtime:
Day / Routine During the Day / Bedtime
Wednesday / Usual Sleep and Feed times / 7:00PM
Thursday / Sleep and Feed times 15mins later, (e.g. first feed at 7:15am not 7am) / 7:15pm
Friday / Sleep and Feed times 30mins later (e.g. first feed at 7:45am not 7am) / 7:30pm
Saturday / Sleep and Feed times 45mins later (e.g. first feed at 7:45am not 7am) / 7:45pm
Sunday / Wake your child at 7am, then your usual routine times / 7:00pm (new time)
Keep in Mind
While your little one is getting used to the new time, stick to your usual bedtime rules and behaviors. For example if your toddler usually can go to sleep by himself, avoid lying down with him or letting him sleep in your bed. A week of different bedtime routine while adjusting to Daylight Saving could be long enough to build a new habit, which you then need to deal with.
If your baby or toddler wants to sleep in a bit later (after you start adjusting their bedtime, then allow this.
Bonus: When you set your clock back by one hour on Saturday night before you go to bed, be sure to check your smoke alarms at the same times. :)