Let there be light! It’s almost time to turn those clocks forward an hour. Losing an hour of sleep on the first day is never fun, but it’s well worth the brighter mornings and longer days ahead. And there’s good news for parents: “Spring forward” is easier to navigate than “fall back” when it comes to your baby’s sleep schedule.
There are two basic approaches you can take:
Option One: Go with the flow, baby
Many babies are able to adjust naturally to the new schedule without too much intervention. After you turn the clocks forward, do meals, snacks, naps and bedtime at their usual time,s, according to the (adjusted) clock. When it comes to sleep, you’ll probably find that your baby doesn’t settle down as easily at first, since their biological clock will think it’s an hour earlier than it actually is. But over time, they’ll adjust.
Be sure not to let your baby oversleep, though, tempting as it may be. If they normally wake up at 6:30 a.m., don’t let them sleep too long past that, or it will prolong the time it takes for them to adjust to the change. Go into their room, open the shades, and let the light in. If you’re really hardcore, you can even wake your baby up an hour early starting the very first day of daylight saving time—but if you don’t, we won’t tell.
Option Two: Get ahead of the game
If you’re a planner, or your baby is a sensitive sleeper, there’s another option: Gradually move your baby’s bedtime and wake-up times earlier each night in the week before your turn the clock forward. We even whipped up a handy chart, below, to help you out: Choose your baby’s normal bedtime from the column on the left, then move across to see what time to put them to bed each night leading up to Sunday.
If fifteen minutes at a time feels like too big a jump, try ten or even five minute increments instead. Didn’t read this until Thursday? No problem; even shifting your baby’s bedtime just 15 or 30 minutes earlier in advance of the time change will help things go more smoothly after you spring forward.
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Pro tips for either technique
Whether you do the plan-ahead or adjust-afterward approach, there are things you can do both before and after the clocks change to up your chances of a successful transition:
Don’t skimp on the naps: Your baby will have an easier time with schedule disruptions if they have a solid foundation of healthy napping in the days leading up to daylight saving time.
Use a soothing bedtime routine: Having a calm, soothing bedtime routine is always important: Dim lights, quiet voices, no screens. Before and after a time shift, it’s even more essential to help your baby get into the sleepy zone.
Use the light (and dark) to your advantage: Light-blocking shades or curtains may help if your baby is having trouble settling down earlier than usual. On the flip side, getting outdoors in the sunlight during waking hours is a great way to help groggy little ones—and their grownups—get used to the time shift.
The most important reminder of all: This too shall pass.You may have a few bumpy, cranky days at first, but soon enough, your baby’s schedule will be back on track, and you can enjoy all that light out there.