It’s the time of year nearly all parents of babies and toddlers dread — Daylight Savings Time. For a lucky few it means maybe a day or two of disrupted sleep schedules. But for others it can mean days or even a week or two of adjusting to the new schedule. We asked the sleep experts at Dream Team Baby for their advice on how to best prepare for the “spring forward ” changes to the clock.
- If you can, it's ideal to start the Daylight Savings transition on Saturday. This gives families the benefit of an extra day of adjusting before the work and/or school week begins.
- If you can't start on Saturday (or have a very flexible sleeper) simply skip down to Step #4.
1. We recommend that our clients start the Daylight Savings transition on Saturday so they have the benefit of an extra day of fine tuning before the work week begins.
2. On Saturday, use your child's nap and bedtimes to help him or her "pre-adjust" to Sunday's time change. Tweak the regular sleep schedule in 15 or 30 minute increments. Note: Adjust in 15 minute increments if you have two or three naps and in 30 min increments if your baby takes one nap. For instance, a 1:00-3:00 p.m. nap and 7:00 p.m. bedtime would turn into a 12:30-2:30 p.m. nap and a 6:00 or 6:15 p.m. bedtime. Doing this homework ahead of time will give your child a head start on Sunday.
3. Try your best to get your child ready for these "new" nap times and bedtime on Saturday by getting plenty of fresh air. If possible, introduce some fun, novel activities. This will help tire your child out a bit more than usual. Also, make sure to stick to your usual pre-nap routine, if you have one.
4. By Sunday morning, the clocks will have adjusted overnight so wake your child up at his or her normal time and put your child down at his or her normal naptime(s). This may be a challenge the first day or so since it will feel an hour early to their little bodies.
5. Continue to get outside and have even more fun, active play planned for your family on Sunday.
6. On Sunday evening, try your best to help your child be dressed and ready for bed at his or her normal bedtime. Again, stick to your usual bedtime routine as if nothing has changed. If your child is not showing signs of being tired, it's okay to make bedtime 15-30 minutes late (according to the new clock) and continue to refine the schedule the next day.
7. Remember that all children are different. Some may make the jump in time change seamlessly, and others may take a few days to a full week to fully adjust. Just be patient and it will all "spring" in to place.
– Conner Herman and Kira Ryan are New York City moms and the founders of Dream Team Baby, which provides customized infant and toddler sleep consultations. They are also CEIM certified infant massage educators.