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Daylight Savings Time Sleep Survival Strategies

Oh, Daylight Savings Time. When the clocks get turned back this Sunday, November 7th, 2021 at 2:00AM, your baby will hopefully be sleeping right through it. But when the sun rises on Sunday morning, those blissful pre-baby days of sleeping in an extra hour are now behind you. However, sleep deprivation isn’t a given, either. Read on for baby sleep survival strategies to make the daylight savings time transition as smooth as possible for your family.

DST Baby Sleep Survival Strategy #1: Roll With It

Thankfully, the “fall back” daylight savings time tends to be an easier adjustment than “spring forward.” When the clocks get turned back an hour, everything shifts an hour later. Your older baby or toddler might be the type to do just fine going to bed or napping an hour later than usual. Think of those nights when you’re running behind, late to get dinner on the table and slow to get everyone settled for the night – how does your little one handle it? If they tend to not get too overtired and are apt to sleep in a bit later the next morning, you can try simply resetting the clocks and sticking to your routine as usual. 

Your little ones might wake up “early” for a few days, i.e. if they typically wake at 7:00, they may still wake around the same time (now 6:00). This means an hour less sleep and potentially a baby who’s fussier and harder to put down for naps throughout the day. Try to let them play on their own for a bit longer before their first morning feeding, to get them back on schedule. Most older babies and toddlers will adjust to the new wake-up time within a few days to a week. 

DST Baby Sleep Survival Strategy #2: Adjust Gradually 

If your baby is young or strongly attached to their sleep times, they might need a bit more help to adjust to daylight savings time. Staying up an extra hour just won’t work for newborns or babies who are sensitive to overtiredness. In this case, you’ll want to gradually adjust their schedule so they don’t have to make the change all in one day. 

Starting 4 days before daylight savings time, shift your baby’s naps and bedtime ahead by about 15 minutes a day. So, if their first nap is at 9:00AM, on Day 1 it will be 9:15, Day 2 it will be 9:30, Day 3 it will be 9:45, and Day 4 it will be 10:00. After the clocks move back an hour, their nap time will once again be at 9:00AM. 

Do the same for feedings and bedtime, and your little one will be on track to adjust to the new clock time right on target. Need help with your older baby’s (5 months and up) sleep patterns? Learn more about our sleep training packages.

Daylight Savings Time and Newborns

If your newborn or young baby’s naps and bedtime are still dictated by their awake time, not necessarily the clock, it’s important to still follow their cues. Trying to push your baby to stay awake longer than they can comfortably handle often backfires, leading to overtiredness and fussy babies who wake more often in the night. 

At this age, you’re still finding your rhythm and learning your baby’s cues. Have a goal bedtime in mind (6:30-8:30PM for most families), but don’t stress if your baby isn’t quite there yet with the new time change. Keep track of their awake windows (60-90 minutes for newborns, 75-120 minutes for 3-4 month olds) and sleep cues, and help your baby sleep when their body is ready. 

Sleep begets sleep, and well-rested babies fall and stay asleep better. Sleep deprivation is hard enough in the newborn phase without the stress of trying to adhere to a strict clock schedule. The time for following the clock for predictable naps and bedtime will come, but for newborns, developing healthy sleep habits is the priority over the time on the clock.