Daylight savings time is here again! I can sense the anxiety amongst you. Especially if you've just mastered getting your baby sleeping well. Most the general public don’t mind it so much in the autumn when they gain an extra hour, but for new parents this can sent you into panic. Especially when you're already feeling very sleep deprived.
If I had my way, there would not be a daylight savings time. It really does affect not only children’s sleep patterns but adults too. In fact, statistically, there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings time kicks in. It really does have an effect on all of us. It can increase our sleep debt. Especially in children, who tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. That is usually why people notice it the most in young children.
My recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 09:30, you will adjust this to 09:00 for the three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child. However not so much that it will cause much damage to their schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap.
Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 19:00. I recommend putting that child to bed at 18:30. for the first three days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 19:30 to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.
If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes. Then they can see if it is 06:00 but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 06:30 it says 07:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal. By the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wake up time.
If you are dealing with a baby, you cannot do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up. You do not want to send a message that getting up at 06:00. is okay now. So if they normally wake at 07:00, but is now up at 06:00, you will wait till ten after the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 06:30 the next day. By the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 19:00. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.
The same “split the difference” rule applies. So if nap time was usually 09:30, it’s now 10:00. The same goes for the afternoon nap, and bedtime is 19:30. This will mean that your baby is going to bed a little earlier or sooner than the normal wait between sleeps. Again, it’s not so bad that it’s going to interfere with their schedule too much. It may take her a bit more time to fall asleep since they may not be as tired. Remember in a week’s time she will be back on track again.
On day and night 4, move to the correct time on the clock again.
Give it time and know that your baby will get back on schedule within a week, possibly two. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you are struggling with your child's sleep.