How to Survive Daylight Savings Time with a Baby or Toddler. How to Prepare your Baby or Toddler for Daylight Savings in 9 Easy Steps.
When Spring and Fall brings a change of the clocks, we all know the time change means an hour of more or less sleep. But with a little one at home, it could also mean an hour earlier of being up and awake, and a few days of a cranky kiddo as they struggle to adjust.
If you’re wondering how to survive daylight savings time with a toddler or baby at home, we’ve got you covered.
This guide contains our best tips to adjust to daylight savings time with a little one, including gradually shifting their sleep schedule and bedtime routine so they’re able to deal with the time change with minimal fuss.
Our tips combine sleep hygiene, an organized routine to get your child to gradually go to bed earlier or later (depending on whether you’re springing forward or falling back), and small step adjustments to make the time transition smooth for both baby and you.
If you’re ready to get your child’s sleep back to normal in no time, keep reading!
How to Survive Daylight Savings with a Toddler or Baby
Getting your child to adjust easily to daylight saving time can help everyone have a more comfortable sleep routine. The faster your child’s sleep adjusts, the sooner you’ll find yourself going to bed without dreading the next morning.
If, however, you’re unprepared for the time change, a baby that usually wakes up at an early 6am, could begin waking at 5am – and that’s an extra hour of tiredness that no parent needs! Not to mention next day crankiness.
With that in mind, here are my top tips for getting your child’s bedtime onto the new schedule, so your baby or toddler can adjust as quickly as possible.
11 Bedtime and Sleep Schedule Tips to Help Your Child Adjust to Daylight Savings Time
# 1 – Have a Great Sleep Hygiene Schedule
Having good sleep hygiene is helpful for all babies and toddlers. It’s essential if you want your infant to have a consistent sleep routine.
Sleep hygiene is a set of habits surrounding going to bed. Good sleep hygiene ensures you can all have a good night’s sleep, and sets your child up for a lifetime of good sleep habits.
Having these habits established well before a time change can take the stress out of bedtime for children and parents.
And the name of the game is consistency: consistent timing, and a consistent routine and environment.
# 2 – Make Sure Their Room is Dark
Blackout blinds are a good idea year round, but some parents appreciate them even more around a time change.
Using a black out blind or double lined curtains will ensure your baby’s room is darker in preparation for the change during daylight saving time.
Kids can become confused if it’s too light outside in the morning, and the blackout blind will tell them it’s time to fall back asleep for another hour or two!
Conversely, you can incorporate natural light as a gentle way to wake up your child in the mornings, and after naps, too, by opening the blinds a bit.
# 3 – Avoid Noisy Stimulation
It may sound like a lovely idea to have a twinkling lullaby playing as your child drifts off to the land of nod, but any noises apart from a low rumbling can actually stimulate your child (this is why they always fall asleep during a car ride!)
The sound of anything other than low rumbling white noise can actually wake your child from their natural sleep cycle if played during their sleep.
Stick to a silent room or white noise during sleep. If you have a sleep aid that plays a lullaby, make sure if automatically turns off after a few minutes, and only plays when your child is settling in to go to bed, not when they’re actually sleeping.
# 4 – Stick to a Routine
Babies’ melatonin levels are naturally at their highest between 6:30-7:30pm, so this is the best time to put your baby to bed for them to sleep naturally and through the night.
Some parents may think they are trying to ‘trick’ a baby into sleeping longer by letting them go to sleep a few hours later. But in reality, although it seems counterintuitive, a later bedtime won’t take advantage of this melatonin boost and your little one will still wake up as early – leaving everyone extra tired.
Stick to a consistent bedtime routine throughout the year.
# 5 – Have Some Wind Down Time
Where possible, try and keep a bedtime routine as consistent as possible. For many parents, that’s bottle–bath–book-bed.
After their final feed and a fun bath, clean, fresh pyjamas and a diaper will ensure your little one is as comfortable as possible, and signal it’s almost time for sleep.
Then, put him to bed and share a story book. This is a lovely way to bond with your child as they wind down, without the stimulation of televisions and technology.
# 6 – Use a Toddler Alarm Clock if Your Child is Old Enough
If your child is a little older, you can introduce them to a toddler alarm clock, also known as an okay to wake clock.
This kind of night light device can be set to teach little ones when it is time to wake up, by gradually changing and using lights, pictures and sometimes sounds (or a combination of the three!) to show them when it’s a good time to wake up.
During daylight saving time you can adjust the timing on this clock to suit the time changes (or do it gradually – as explained below!).
# 7 – Make Gradual Adjustments for Daylight Saving Time
If you know your child is a fussy sleeper likely to be affected by the time change daylight saving time brings, plan ahead to create a schedule that changes your baby’s routine naturally and gradually.
In the four days leading up to daylight saving time, make a shift to make your baby’s bedtime by 15 minutes each day (15 minutes earlier when you Spring Forward, and 15 minutes later when you Fall Back).
This means that in the morning you need to wake your baby 15 minutes earlier to match this time difference each day, and adjust other parts of their routine, like lunchtime, nap time and dinner time by 15 minutes too. This adjustment will prepare your baby for the change gradually.
If your baby normally goes to sleep at 7:00pm and wakes at 7:00am, in the four days before springing forward, you’ll want to change it to:
Day 1: Go to sleep at 6:45pm – Wake at 6:45am
Day 2: Go to sleep at 6:30pm – Wake at 6:30am
Day 3: Go to sleep at 6:15pm – Wake at 6:15am
Day 4: Go to sleep at 6:00pm ( Saturday of DST) – Wake at 7:00am as the clock will now be an hour later.
You can then go back to your normal routine, of 7:00pm – 7:00am
If all goes to plan (fingers crossed!) your little one will be back to their usual routine, and you can resume your normal schedule! If needed, you can make this shift more gradually and make the 15 minute adjustments every second day if you feel that it will be easier for your baby.
If your baby is a great sleeper, you could split the hour difference in just 2 nights, making an adjustment of 30 minutes per night.
# 8 – Stick With It
There may be times during this change in routine where you might be fighting with a change of temperament. After all, babies and toddlers can get groggy and cranky if they are over tired!
In these cases, you might need to speed up your bedtime routine, by skipping the extra story or speeding through bath time a little quicker.
Some parents may feel that skipping an afternoon nap might make their child more sleepy in preparation for sleeping through the time change, but this generally isn’t recommended and will just leave you with a grumpier little one.
# 9 – Do Nothing?!
Of course, for this two times a year change, you may also plan to do absolutely nothing and just see how it rides out for you and your family.
You can also make the gradual changes mentioned after the times have changed for daylight savings time if you need to for your family.
It may be that as a one off early awakening, you can deal with it and power through the day (maybe with an extra strong coffee!). It could also help to have a fresh spring walk and some time in the fresh air if you have older toddlers, to help tire them out for bedtime.
All that said, this probably isn’t the best time to make major changes, such as switching their room or upgrading them from toddler bed to big kid mattress.
Final Thoughts About Surviving a Time Change with a Baby or Toddler
Just remember, that no matter how fussy a sleeper you child is, all children should make the adjustment to their new time schedules in a week or two.
Hopefully our sleep hygiene tricks will help you to plan your routine to make the time transition as simple as possible (and save you from an extra early wake up call!)
And if you know of any parents or grandparents who could benefit from this article, we sure hope you’ll share it with them!