With the fall of the months, my daughter was five months old when I had to negotiate the Daylight Saving adjustment for the first time as a mother. My baby was already a shocking cat-napper, and she was just entering a stage of waking more often during the night. The thought of yet more disruption and less sleep filled me with dread.
It seemed, from the parenting books I owned, that Daylight Saving wasn’t a topic worth even a single paragraph throughout the often lengthy chapters on sleep advice and routines. Perhaps I was overreacting? I am a terrible worrier. Maybe my baby wouldn’t be fussed with the minor shift in times after all? I took a deep breath, and, for lack of any practical advice, crossed my fingers.
I now have the experience of 16 Daylight Saving time adjustments behind me, and I confess that that first episode still haunts me. I vowed, at the time, never to repeat the excruciating experience, and spent all those extra sleepless hours devising my method ready for the next adjustment, a short six months away.
Episode number 17 is now quickly approaching, and I know I’ve got this!
Maybe this is your first Daylight Saving with a baby, or perhaps you’re just looking for a better way with your toddler or older kids. With some fresh ideas and careful preparation, you and your family will also breeze through the transition like pros.
Have a plan
Accept that there will be a period of adjustment. It may only be a few days, but it could take up to a couple of weeks. So be prepared to begin early and know your plan.
Spread out the hour change
It’s much better to introduce your child to the time adjustment gradually. Spread out the hour over a week, or longer, by adjusting your schedule by 5-10 minutes each day, depending on the age of your child. A baby will need smaller daily changes over a longer period to adjust, whereas a school-aged child will usually cope with an adjustment of 10-15 minutes each day.
Don’t change your routine
Maintain your usual routines at bedtime and in the morning. Consistency is the best way to encourage longterm good sleeping habits in your children. Never be tempted to tire your child out so they might go to bed earlier, or get them to stay up later to catch up with the time change. An overtired baby or child will cause even the best formed plans to backfire.
Tools that may help
Consider using extra blackout options for your child’s bedroom window(s) during the transition period if necessary. In the lead up to the end of Daylight Saving, toddlers and older children can be encouraged to stay in bed until a clock radio turns on in the morning at the pre-set time (adjusted daily by 5-10 minutes later). A clock radio can help with the morning routine in the lead up to the start of Daylight Saving also.
Provide extra support
For a child who is confused by the mornings or evenings being brighter or darker than they expect, explain that the sun has a different routine from us throughout the year, so our bedtime and wake-up times need to match up with the clock, not the sun. Try to be more forgiving during the transition, as your child may be a bit grumpier or more frustrated than usual as their body catches up with the time change. Even as adults, we need time to adjust.
Heading into Daylight Saving
The clocks move forward one hour, we “lose” an hour. About a week before the clocks move forward, you will need to begin getting your child up 5-10 minutes earlier each morning. Although this might seem painful, it will help with the adjustment at the end of the day, as you gradually bring bath time, dinner and bedtime forward by 5-10 minutes each day. Babies may need the same slight earlier time adjustments to their daytime routines as well.
At the end of Daylight Saving
The clocks turn back one hour, we “gain” the hour back. About a week before the clocks turn back, you will need to begin adjusting wake-up time by 5-10 minutes later each day. Also gradually move out bath time, dinner and bedtime by 5-10 minutes later each day. Babies may need the same slight later time adjustments to their daytime routines as well.
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