It’s hard to believe with the many inches of snow on the ground still that spring is right around the corner. But the days are getting longer and with that comes the beginning of daylight saving time. This is a day most of us adults dread—we lose an hour of sleep in the morning.
If your baby is waking too early, this is an opportunity to shift his schedule slightly. If he was waking at 6:00am and you prefer a 7:00am wake up, simply allow him to sleep until the new 7:00am on March 8th. Do your best to keep him on his normal schedule through the day, with bedtime being an hour later than usual. Instead of sleeping 7:00pm to 6:00am, he is now sleeping 8:00pm to 7:00am.
Spoil alert: If your child has a strong internal clock and is a natural lark, it is likely that his body clock will shift back to a 6:00am wake up over time. You can delay this by keeping his room conducive to sleep: think cool, dark, and quiet. If your child’s wake up does shift back, be sure to adjust bedtime earlier again as well. You don’t want him losing an hour of night sleep!
If you need to keep your child on the same schedule because you have a tight morning timeline, you’ll want to adjust your baby’s schedule either quickly or gradually. Here are 5 easy steps to make that happen.
The day before the time change (March 7th), begin by waking your baby one hour earlier in the morning. So, if your baby normally wakes at 7:00am, wake him at 6:00am.
Adjust naps accordingly. If you are using a wake time schedule which doesn’t time naps on the clock, naps will naturally fall earlier accordingly. If your baby has set nap times on the clock, then you’ll put your baby down for nap about an hour early for each nap.
End naps earlier. The last nap of the day will need to end one hour earlier than normal in order to allow your baby time to build up enough sleep inertia to go to bed an hour earlier that night. So, if you normally end naps by 4:00pm, end naps by 3:00pm.
Bedtime will then fall about an hour earlier. Be sure to give your child enough time during his routine to settle since his body may not be quite ready for bed. Stimulate the release of that sleepy hormone melatonin by lowering the lights and doing calming activities.
The next morning (March 8th), wake your baby up at his normal time. So, if he normally wakes at 7:00am, wake him at 7:00am. His body may feel like it is still 6:00am so help him adjust by exposing him to lots of bright natural sunlight.
If your baby is sensitive, you can help him adjust more slowly by beginning the shift a few days earlier and shifting by 30 minutes per day instead of one hour.
It usually takes most adults about 3 days to adjust to the new time. For well-rested babies and children, it usually takes about 3 to 5 days to adjust. For those who are more sensitive, it can take up to a week. Use light and dark to your advantage. Use black out shades to elicit the flow of melatonin during naps and bedtime, and expose your child to bright natural light in the morning and after naps.