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“Falling Back”: Daylight Saving Time and Your Baby’s Sleep

Ah, autumn! The season of school routines, crisp air, and pumpkins taking center stage. Amidst the joys of pumpkin spice lattes and apple picking, there’s a seasonal challenge that parents face — the end of daylight saving time. This shift can disrupt sleep schedules, leading to early wake-up calls and potential chaos.

While the temptation might be to adjust your child’s bedtime, hoping they’ll sleep in later, this approach can backfire. Sleep is a delicate balance between the body’s internal clock and sleep pressure. Keeping your child up later risks overtiring them, potentially leading to a restless night and an even earlier morning.

Strategies for a Smooth Transition

The Slow-and-Steady Strategy For younger ones under 10 months, sensitive to schedule shifts, this method requires preparation. Gradually shift your child’s entire schedule by 15 minutes each day for the four days leading up to the time change. This includes waking up, eating, and sleeping times. By the time the clocks change, your child should seamlessly adjust to the new schedule

The “Deal With It Later” Approach Ideal for those less sensitive to changes and with no time for prep work. On the first morning of the time change, stick to your usual wake-up time (even if it feels early), maintaining the rest of the day’s routine. Bedtime can be slightly earlier if your child is a bit grumpy.

💡 Consistency is key. Stick to the usual meal and nap times to anchor your child’s daily routine

Let There Be Light!

Leverage the power of light and darkness to help your child adjust. Ensure exposure to plenty of natural light during the day after the time change. This aids in resetting their “internal clock” and promotes alertness. Keep their room dark when it’s time to sleep to signal bedtime.

Consider using blackout curtains to create a conducive sleep environment, especially if your child’s room is exposed to streetlights or early morning sunlight.

Key Takeaways: How to navigate ‘falling back’ (daylight savings)

  • Adjusting to a new schedule takes about a week, so patience is key.
  • Maintain your usual routines and wake windows before naps and bedtime.
  • If faced with early wake-ups, resist starting the day until your usual wake-up time.

Remember, as you guide your child through this transition, a little patience, adherence to routines, and thoughtful tweaks to their environment will go a long way. Happy adjusting!

This article was written by Batelle – team of sleep experts, lactation consultants, therapists, doulas, and early education specialists. Special thanks to Deanna.  

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