By Cara Dumaplin
Spring means tulips are blooming, baby birds are tweeting, and mamas are pushing strollers without freezing.
Oops, sorry to burst your bubble, but I have to bring up those two naughty words also associated with spring: Daylight Savings.
As mothers, we all know Daylight Savings was created to punish us for the offenses during our youth, right? Could there possibly be any other reason why the entire nation would want to mess with our baby’s sleep/wake schedule?
Well, I actually have some really good news about Daylight Savings. If your little one is an early riser, adjusting the clock an hour later just solved your problem. What used to be a 5:30am wake time will now be a 6:30am wake time! Whoooo Hoooo I have three solutions for handling Daylight Savings this spring (and none of them involve moving to my home state of Arizona where we proudly forgo Daylight Savings).
Solution #1: One way of handling the clock change is to just “Spring Forward”.
Yes, move your entire day forward one hour. Forget the time has changed and maintain your normal routine. Allow Baby to wake at his normal wake time, which will naturally be an hour later on the clock. So, if you had a 7pm bedtime and 6am wake time, you now have an 8pm bedtime and a 7am wake time. Voilà, that was easy! For some, Solution #1 is just not feasible. There are families who have to be out the door at a certain time in the morning so allowing baby to “sleep in” just isn’t possible. Another scenario where this wouldn’t work is for babies who have a bedtime of 7:30pm or later. Let me explain why: Research shows that babies have a “sweet spot” bedtime that makes going to sleep the easiest and staying asleep the longest. For most, this bedtime is between 7-8pm. After 8-8:30pm, babies (and toddlers too) get a “second wind” and become overtired. Have you ever tried to get an overtired baby to sleep? It is nearly impossible! So, what is now a 7:45pm bedtime will soon be an 8:45pm bedtime after our time change. This is simply too late for most babies and it will cause multiple night wakings and even earlier mornings.
That leads us to Solution #2.
Solution #2: The week prior to Daylight Savings, adjust your baby’s entire schedule by 10-15 minutes each day.
Wake your baby 10-15 minutes earlier than normal in the morning. (I know, this will physically hurt your heart!) Put her down 10-15 minutes earlier at each nap and 10-15 minutes earlier at bedtime. Within 4-6 days, you have your exact schedule intact. Of course, always watch sleepy cues. Solution #3: If the previous solutions don’t sound doable, then “Meet in the Middle”. On Sunday morning after the time change, go wake your baby 30 minutes early. Put her down 30 minutes earlier for all naps and 30 minutes earlier for bedtime too. You can slightly adjust her schedule as needed throughout the week.
Now, whatever solution you pick, I have three big tips for you to keep in mind as you adjust to your new schedule:
1. Light exposure is vital in adjusting your little one’s sleep. Get outside in the sunshine (especially in the early morning and early afternoon). An hour prior to bedtime, do just the opposite. Pull the curtains, dim the light, and turn off the television and other electronics. Invest in some good blackout curtains. Just a bit of light seeping into the bedroom at bedtime and in those early morning hours can truly impact sleep. Dark sheets taped over the windows can work too. (Make sure they are out of reach for your baby.)
2. A consistent routine cues your baby’s brain that sleep is imminent. For example, let’s say your bedtime routine includes dimming the lights, putting on the Zipadee Zip, and rocking in the rocking chair. Maintain this routine! This is often way more important in cueing your Little One that it’s bedtime than the hour hand on a clock.
3. Be patient. It takes time to adjust to a clock change. Try to go with the flow and watch YOUR baby’s sleep cues. If he needs a mini cat-nap in the late afternoon as his schedule is being shifted, allow it. If bedtime needs to happen just a bit earlier or later, that’s okay. Remember, he’s human and not a clock. He will adjust. Just give him some grace… and while you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself some too. You’ve got this, Mom!
Now, I have a Spring question for you. Why do those Peeps call out to me in the middle of the grocery store? They are pure sugar and so unhealthy! How do they know I will throw them in my cart? Oh well… chicks or bunnies?
Cara Dumaplin, Founder of Taking Cara Babies, is not a blogger. She is, however, a mom to four kids who keep her laughing daily. Although she swore she would never date a doctor, it is with joy that she admits marrying her husband (a pediatrician) was the beginning of a crazy-amazing life together. (Albeit, she has had to learn to forgive him for constantly feeding their kids Pop-Tarts for breakfast.) A registered nurse with 18 years experience, Cara's eyes light up when she discusses her passion of educating, encouraging, and empowering new parents. Conquering sleep deprivation is her goal. Follow Taking Cara Babies on Facebook or Instagram for helpful baby sleep tips, successful infant sleep stories, and a glimpse into this chaotic, yet blessed life. For more blogs by Cara check out here.