Hello, Sunshine! Parent-Tested Tips to Help Your Baby Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

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Looking on the bright side is a smart way to weather the wild ride of infancy. This applies to everything from blowouts (a chance to wear another outfit before baby outgrows it!) to the arrival of Daylight Saving Time, also known as National Mess-with-Your-Baby’s-Sleep-Schedule Time.

In the case of DST, you have an extra hour of sunlight at the end of each day, so there’s an actual bright side. But parents know it takes some effort to see the bi-annual shuffle in a good light. With these parent-tested tips for helping baby adjust to Daylight Saving time, your child’s bedtime routine—and your sanity—can be saved.

photo: smpratt90 via Pixabay

Start Early
The best way to keep Daylight Saving Time from throwing your baby’s routine out of whack is by preparing for the change well before it hits. Successful approaches vary, but most experts suggest moving baby’s bedtime by 15 minutes every other day in the week or so leading up to the seasonal shift. So, if baby typically goes down around 7:30 p.m., shift bedtime back in quarter-hour increments until you reach the “new” bedtime of 6:30, which, with the time change, will actually still be 7:30 p.m.—your child’s original bedtime. Adjust naps the same way. Starting early gives you some leeway in case life makes it tricky to keep shifting every other day.

Go Dark 
Light exposure has a direct influence on the body’s circadian rhythm (internal biological clock). Less light signals our body to become sleepy, while more light stimulates us to feel awake. As the new bedtime hour approaches, close the blinds and dim the lights in your home so it feels later than it is. 

If you haven’t already invested in blackout curtains, snag these miracles from heaven in fabric form. Keeping baby’s room dark will help your little one settle into sleep, even with the sun in full force. Pro tip: If light seeps in around the edges of your nursery windows, attach double-sided adhesive Velcro tabs to your wall and to the back of your curtains. Then, simply press to seal the edges and block out more light. Take that, sunshine! 

photo: iStock

Sound It Out
Invest in a white noise machine. It’s not realistic to expect the rest of the world (or even the rest of your family) to slip into silence to preserve baby’s peaceful sleeping environment post time change, but a white noise machine will preserve the illusion of silence.

In addition to tuning out folks enjoying the extra hour of light, many parents find that the steady hum soothes baby right to sleep. Pro tip: Place the sound machine at least three feet away from your baby’s sleep space to keep cords out of reach and to lessen the impact of the noise on baby’s developing ears. And set the machine to a low volume on the shortest timer (or switch off manually once baby is asleep). Check out our favorite white noise machines and other baby sleep aids.

photo: Joko_Narimo via Pixabay

Give It Time
Here’s the hard truth: Some babies are particularly sensitive to changes in their sleep schedule, and it can take a few weeks for them to adjust to a new one. So if your little one fails to get with the program at first, even after trying the above steps, hang in there. Within a week or two, baby’s sleep schedule should catch up. then

Roll with It
In the meantime, if you have a wee one who isn’t cooperating despite your best efforts, try to look on that bright side. If baby used to go down at 7 p.m. but has temporarily shifted to 8 p.m., use that additional hour for stories and snuggles. With a little luck, the new evening routine will give you the chance to sleep in an extra hour in the morning. But, if baby still wakes up bright-eyed at the pre-time-shift hour, remember: This won’t last forever. As they say, the hours surrounding DST may seem long, but the years really are short.

—Suzanna Palmer


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