If you have napping children, you may be wondering what you’re supposed to do with Daylight Savings Time (DST) coming up. There are lots of different ways that you can approach DST, and each of the following ways will work just fine. No matter which option you choose, Baby will eventually adjust to the new timing; just make sure to expose her to plenty of sunlight and even artificial light during her awake times so that her body can learn the new timing. Light and activity will help her acclimate.
Honestly, I think the simplest way to deal with DST is to go on with Baby’s normal schedule even after the time change. For babies 6+ months, I recommend the following schedule parameters:
Waketime no earlier than 6am, usually no later than 7am
Nap 1 at 9am - Use Crib 60
Nap 2 at 1pm - Use Crib 60
Nap 3/bedtime after a designated amount of waketime (based on age)
So that means that the day before DST, 10-month-old Baby wakes up at 6:30am, naps at 9:00am and 1:00pm, and goes to bed around 6:30pm. The day after DST, Baby will likely still be sleeping at 7am, so you’ll wake her up to preserve the new schedule. Baby may be a little bit undertired at the new 9am, but put her down anyway and employ Crib 60 and your preferred training method.
Continue to follow Baby’s normal schedule, even though Baby herself will be a little bit off the normal schedule. Spring DST is usually an easier adjustment than fall DST, but it may still take a few days or even a week or two for Baby to fully acclimate. This adjustment no different than normal sleep training, when babies’ schedules are drastically changed and they then have to adjust to the new, age-appropriate schedule. So in this case, you just treat DST a little bit like you would any sleep training, and just as with normal sleep training, consistency and proper scheduling will be key ingredients to your success.
If you want to ease into DST a little bit slower, you can adjust the schedule by 30 minutes over a few days. Two days before DST, Baby wakes up at 6:30am, naps at 9am and 1pm, and goes to bed at 6:30pm — her normal schedule. The next day, you wake Baby up at 6:00am and put her down for nap 1 at 8:30am and nap 2 at 12:30pm. You put her down for bed at 6:00pm. On the day of the time change, you wake her at the (new) 6:30am (she may wake on time on her own because her bedtime the night before was earlier, but she may not). Then you put her down for her naps at (new) 9am and 1pm, and for bed at (new) 6:30pm. You are helping her get back to the same timing that she was doing before, even if she’s still not quite doing it. Keep up her usual timing and she should adjust within a few days to two weeks.
If you’re catching this blog post far enough in advance of DST, you can do a slower option. A week before DST, begin shifting Baby’s schedule 10 minutes earlier each day.
On day 1, Baby’s schedule will be: 6:30am wake, 9:00am nap, 1:00pm nap, 6:30pm bedtime.
On day 2, Baby’s schedule will be: 6:20am wake, 8:50am nap, 12:50pm nap, 6:20pm bedtime.
On day 3, Baby’s schedule will be: 6:10am wake, 8:40am nap, 12:40pm nap, 6:10pm bedtime.
And so on, until the day before DST, Baby’s schedule will be: 5:40am wake, 8:10am nap, 12:10pm nap, 5:40pm bedtime. Then on the day of DST, you’ll use your normal timing again.
Keep in mind that we can’t force Baby to sleep when she won’t; we can only enforce Crib 60 and the times we get her out of and put her into her crib. So if she doesn’t fall asleep at the times we’re aiming for, that’s okay; just make sure to put her into and take her out of her crib at the appropriate times to help her learn when she’s supposed to be sleeping.
If Baby is under 6 months and you’re not yet using a circadian schedule, I advise using a slow shift (the one-week option), whether you start the shift a week before the time change or the day of the time change. Just decrease each waketime by 10 minutes so that it pushes Baby’s schedule slightly earlier each day, until she’s back to waking and sleeping when she usually does. And for many younger babies, you don’t even have to worry about DST since their schedules are so irregular anyway.
So don’t fret too much about the time change — Baby will adjust just fine as long as you consistently stick to your plan of action. And if you find that Baby’s schedule simply isn’t returning to normal — or if Baby was never on a predictable schedule to begin with — don’t hesitate to schedule a mini consult or book a full consultation to get things back on track!