by Dr. Jill Campbell, Parent & Me Curriculum Director
Every year around this time, we prepare to move our clocks back one hour. And every year, it is inevitable that a momma in my parenting class will raise her hand and say, “Daylight savings time is ending soon. Any tips on how to help my baby adjust to the new time?” Then I hear a collective sigh from the other moms in class who are now picturing their little ones waking up an hour earlier than they are used to! Before baby, this was a day to look forward to because it meant you got an extra hour of sleep on a Sunday - who doesn’t want or need that? Woohoo! Now with your little one in tow, suddenly that “extra hour” takes on a whole new meaning! While adults can usually adjust to this time shift pretty quickly, babies and toddlers often find the change a bit more difficult. Here are a few suggestions to help make this transition go a little smoother for you and your little one:
1. Start shifting your baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule ahead of time. Begin preparing a week ahead of time by pushing feedings, naps and bedtime later by 10 minutes each day. So, for example, let’s say your baby’s bedtime is normally 7pm. Starting six days before daylight savings try to slowly push your baby’s schedule later by 10 minute-increments during the day. So, if your baby usually feeds at 7am, see if you can do the feeding at 7:10am. If your baby is super fussy by 7:05am, then of course feed her then, but you get the idea. Try to make the routine adjustments as the day goes on. If your baby’s first nap of the day is typically at 9am, see if you can put her down closer to 9:10am. These small shifts in her schedule should help keep your baby from getting too hungry or over-tired. By the end of the first day, your normal 7pm bedtime will now be around 7:10pm. The following morning shift everything by 10 minutes again, so bedtime on the second night now falls at 7:20pm. Continue with the 10-minute shift each day. If all goes well, then on Sunday morning, you can get your baby up according to the new time. So, if baby typically woke up at 7am before the time change, you can now awaken her at 7am with the new time change. Her feedings and sleep times should now be adjusted to the new time. If you find it is still off a bit, just continue to shift her schedule in small increments until you are back on track.
2. Adjust the light: Melatonin, a hormone that helps induce sleepiness, is affected by light. Therefore, a helpful tip during daylight savings “falling back” is to allow your baby to have some light exposure in the early evening, and then use blackout shades at bedtime so that her room is not too bright in the morning.
Most importantly, Please don’t panic, Please remember that even if all this planning doesn’t go quite according to schedule, simply by keeping to a steady routine, within 1-2 weeks your baby should naturally adjust to the time change. I feel like this should be beginning of next paragraph as opposed to bullet point?
Remember, some day when your child becomes a teenager, you will probably be the one trying to get her out of bed in the morning! Until then, please be kind to yourself and maybe try to catch some shut eye when your baby is napping, you’ve earned it!
Jill Campbell, Psy.D, Parent & Me Curriculum Director
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