Daylight Savings Time and Baby Sleep

As adults, most of us look forward to that day every fall when we move our clocks forward an hour (unless you’re from Arizona, Hawaii or Illinois, in which case you don’t play along with DST). Even though it’s only once per year, that extra hour of sleep is delicious. If you have a baby or toddler in the house, however, that hour change can really throw a wrench in your daily routine.

It usually isn’t a major problem if you have an infant. Until babies are four months old or so, their stomachs wake them up, rather than day time and night time anyway. As you probably already have discovered, you can count on newborn babies to wake up every two to four hours, regardless of what is or isn’t going on around them.

If your baby is a bit older, though, and has started to sleep through the night (or is at least beginning some semblance of a sleep schedule), daylight savings time can be tricky. This is especially true if you have managed to get your baby into a regular routine.

There are a few ways you can deal with this, depending on your circumstances. The easiest, assuming you don’t have anywhere pressing to be in the mornings, is to simply ignore daylight savings time as far as bedtime is concerned. Simply adjust your schedule along with the clock. If baby had been going to bed at eight o’clock, move bedtime to seven o’clock. Of course, you will also want to adjust the rest of baby’s activities when possible. Voila, problem averted.

For those of us who need to be to work, school, or somewhere else in the morning, ignoring daylight savings time may not be an option. Chances are, your boss probably won’t be OK with the suggestion that everyone should start the work day an hour later for the next six months.

In such cases, it’s a good idea to adjust baby’s schedule slowly. If you know when daylight savings time is coming (and it’s right on the calendar), you can make adjustments ahead of time. Start changing baby’s schedule a week before daylight savings time hits, moving her bedtime in 10 minute increments. Then, when daylight savings time comes, there won’t be any further adjustment necessary.

Toddlers are even easier when it comes to adjusting their schedules, as they can understand you a bit more. While we don’t recommend trying to explain the concept of daylight savings time to your two year old, she can at least understand the concept that it’s time to go to bed now because mommy says so (more or less).