How to Navigate Baby Sleep During Spring Daylight Savings

by | Feb 27, 2024 | Blog, Podcast, Sleep Challenges, Time Changes | 0 comments

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Alright, friends.  It’s that time of year that makes every parent go “drat, not again”. JUST when you feel like you got your baby or child’s sleep schedule under control, spring daylight savings time arrives and has to throw EVERYTHING off again.  

Now, the good news is that this time change is the less evil one of the two.  This is because your little one’s wake time is set FORWARD by an hour instead of BACK by an hour.

It’s still annoying nonetheless!

That being said, I want you to know that you CAN keep baby sleep in tact during the spring daylight savings.  In this blog post, I’ll discuss what happens during the spring daylight savings, as well as my top baby sleep tips for how to keep your little one’s sleep on track. 

What happens to baby and child sleep during spring daylight savings time?

The spring-forward time change involves setting our clocks an hour forward.  This means that your little one’s 6:30am wakeup suddenly becomes 7:30am after the clocks are set forward.  

For us adults, it means the loss of an hour of sleep- which sucks!  

As annoying as it is, this time change is WAY better than when your little one’s 6:30am wakeup becomes 5:30am with the fall time change!  

Can you prepare your baby and their sleep for the spring daylight savings?

​Sort of, but not usually.

But that’s okay.

In theory, you COULD prepare your little one for the spring time change by gradually waking her earlier for the day.  This would allow her naps to start earlier, which would force her bedtime earlier. And then when the clocks are set forward, she automatically goes back to sleeping on her normal schedule.

The problem is that this isn’t doable for many parents, especially those who have their babies in daycare with set nap schedules.  If you don’t have flexibility and control over your baby’s sleep schedule, this preparation is impossible.  

But don’t fret because this step is REALLY not necessary.  

spring daylight savings and baby sleep

What to do with babies sleep when the clocks change?

How you address your baby’s sleep during the spring forward time change depends on whether your little one is still napping.

My advice for little ones who still nap

Let’s look at a sleep schedule example of a 16-month-old and discuss how to address his sleep when the clocks spring forward.

Here’s what his schedule looked like before the time change:

7:00am- wakeup
1:00pm-3:30pm- nap
8:00pm- bedtime

Let’s say you like your toddler’s sleep schedule and you want to keep things as is.  Here’s what you do on the first day:

Wake your toddler up at 7:30am *new time*.

See, when the clocks are set forward, your little one’s 7am wakeup automatically becomes 8am.  To get him back on track, I wouldn’t let him sleep until 8am (new time) on the first day of the time change.  

But on the other hand, I wouldn’t abruptly wake him up by 7am (new time) either because it means he’ll get a full hour’s less sleep than usual. And he’ll be exhausted!

Instead, I’d suggest compromising by waking him at 7:30am new time.  This is the equivalent of 6:30am old time.  His new schedule on that first Sunday will likely look something like this:

7:30am (new time)- wakeup
1:30pm- 4:00pm- nap
8:30pm- bedtime

The next morning, wake him by 7:00am, his regular time. This way, he can go back to napping at 1:00pm again, followed by his regular 8:00pm bedtime.  

And then from there, his sleep SHOULD be back on track within a few days.  

Remember- your little one’s morning awake times determine their naptimes.  And their naptimes determine their bedtime. So whatever you do, don’t let him sleep in! As long as you spend those first few days of the time change waking him up earlier and earlier for the day, his schedule should be back to normal very soon.

He might be more tired than usual as he’s adjusting to this time change.  But waking him up at his normal morning wake time is CRUCIAL for helping his internal clock adapt to these changes as quickly as possible.  

A plan for young children who don’t nap

Let’s say you’ve got a preschooler or young child who isn’t napping anymore.  For example, let’s say his schedule usually looks like this:

7:00am- wakeup
No nap
7:30pm- bedtime

When the spring forward time change arrives, I recommend applying the same principle by NOT letting your child wake at his usual time.  Afterall, 7:00am has suddenly become 8:00am.  

Instead, I’d wake him at 7:30am NEW time (6:30am OLD time) to help with the transition.  

From there, he might need a later bedtime of 8:00pm temporarily.  But if you wake him at 7:00am the following day, his body clock SHOULD adjust within a few days.  

A plan for your early riser

If your baby or young child has been regularly giving you early morning wakings, you’re in luck. 

Because this time change means your little one’s 5:30am wakeup suddenly becomes 6:30am!  And I want you to take FULL advantage of this amazing opportunity to potentially cure your life of early mornings 🙂 

So listen up:

My biggest piece of advice is to allow your baby’s ENTIRE schedule to shift an hour later.  

For example, if your baby usually wakes at 5:30am for the day and takes their morning nap at 8:30am, allow EVERYTHING to shift an hour later where your baby’s 5:30am becomes 6:30am, and his 8:30am nap becomes 9:30am.  

Don’t keep that morning nap at 8:30am. That will undo the amazing benefit this time change offers you! 

**Side note- if you are craving a consistent and predictable sleep schedule for your little one and you have no idea where to start, grab a copy of my free sleep chart that has all my suggested wake windows, nap totals, and sleep totals for babies ages 0-5!**

Free sleep chart

An important note about blackout blinds

If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you’d know that I’m a HUGE proponent of having heavy-duty blackout shades in your little one’s room.  

And during this spring clock change, darkening your little one’s room is especially important.  This is because this time change lengthens the day and increases the amount of sunlight we get.  It’s MUCH harder to get your little one to sleep for the night when the sun is beaming through his windows, resulting in tons of extra light exposure at bedtime.

So if you haven’t already done so, I STRONGLY recommend installing blackout blinds in your child’s bedroom.    

Here are links to some amazing blackout blinds and curtains for your little one’s bedroom:

*I may earn a commission from links on this page at no additional cost to you, but I only recommend products I love.

How long does it take for a baby or child’s sleep schedule to adjust to spring daylight savings?

Adjusting to daylight savings usually takes babies a few days, up to a week.  

It’s very normal to have a few rough days of fussy, cranky, overtired babies and children.  Let’s not forget how normal it us for us adults to struggle for a few days as well!    

Be patient.  At the end of the day, these time changes are annoying!  So be easy on yourself. Go easy on your little ones, give everybody a few days to adjust and I promise you they WILL adjust. 

Want to get your little one consistently sleeping 11-12 hours at night so you can be a functioning human?

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