How To Adjust Sleep Schedules For Spring Daylight Saving Time

How To Adjust Sleep Schedules For Spring Daylight Saving Time

All Ages

Feb 21, 2020

On SundayMarch 14 2021, clocks change! We are going FORWARD one hour starting at 2AM! This time change isn’t as brutal as the Fall change when you start your morning an hour sooner. Instead, it will feel pretty blissful to wake at 7AM…the old 6AM! In fact, many families use this as an opportunity to push their baby’s schedule forward for the warmer months! If you’d like to do that, it’s totally an option! On the blog, I’ll walk you through how to handle the time transition for your baby, both adjusted schedule and the new ‘later’ schedule! But first…

How to adapt your child’s sleep schedule during Daylight Savings Time

There are some methods around DST where you begin phasing in subtle changes in your child’s sleep routine starting Wednesday or Thursday before the time change. I don’t prefer all the planning ahead, so I’d rather just focus on it when it happens. That’s just my personality, and I’ve seen this work just fine with so many of my clients. It’s okay to wait until Sunday morning to start making your change, so don’t put pressure on yourself to do anything beforehand. 

Sunday morning when you wake up (and now it’s an hour later), get up, then change your clocks, get your coffee, get started for the day, and finally, slightly adjust your child’s schedule. 

The way this works for ‘springing forward’ is basically the direct opposite from the fall daylight savings. For right now, we are actually going to adjust your baby’s nap and bedtime schedule to where they will feel like they are going to bed thirty minutes sooner. Then, about three to four days later, depending on the child, we’re going to go back to our normal time. It takes about a week total to really adjust to this. Only about three to four days will you need to actually adjust their schedule before they get in line with it. 

Sample Daylight Savings Schedules

Let’s look at some example sleep schedules to save on your phone…

Spring Forward for Infants

Spring Forward for Babies with a 2-Nap Schedule

Spring Forward for Babies with a 1-Nap Schedule

Spring Forward for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers

For babies 0-5 months old, we’re still 100% focused on awake windows. You’re not adjusting their schedule since we haven’t landed one yet. Abide strictly by their awake windows, and perhaps cap a nap short at the end of the day so you can have that goal bedtime range! (Bedtime range = bedtime will fall somewhere between ___ and ___ times, depends on the baby’s age! See our free schedule generator here for details!)

On a 2-nap schedule, your child will still take 2 naps, but the naps will feel 30 minutes sooner. We can get away with this easier in the morning because your child’s sleep pressure is the greatest. Have you noticed your child rubbing their eyes or yawning even after 1 hour of being awake? Consider this like a sleep hangover. They slept well all night, wake up and the pressure from the night is still lingering. The morning nap is the easiest one to fall asleep for, so it’s not as much of a fight to get baby down a tad earlier. The rest of the day follows suit with 30 minute ‘later’ naptimes, which feel like 30 minutes earlier. 

On a 1-nap schedule, your child will still keep their 1 nap, but it will feel 30 minutes sooner. If your toddler did wake up later in the morning, you may want to focus on LOTS of activity time between breakfast and naptime! (This is actually just a good toddler nap tip in general!) That night you’ll also adjust bedtime slightly.

We’re essentially putting them down where they feel like they’re going to bed thirty minutes early. It’s going to take about four days to adjust.

Let’s cover some common questions! Many of you have reached out on Instagram through my weekly Q&A’s asking, “Can I use this time change to adjust my child’s schedule completely?” For that I say, “Go for it!” You might as well give it a shot! Sometimes my clients actually like to adjust their schedules per season. Many families who enjoy being outdoors in the warm weather will use Spring DST to move bedtime and start time later so they can go outside in the evenings. If it works for your family, do it! Make sure you’ve got high quality blackout curtains to keep your kiddo sleeping later in the morning! Check out this previous blog for the best options.

However, I can’t guarantee that we can get your child into this new bedtime. A child’s body clock can be very sensitive. Even though your child cannot read numbers, their body is very in-tune with their daily rhythms. To help with some of this and if you’re looking to adjust your child from a 6 AM-6 PM to a 7 AM-7 PM, my #1 tip is to get outside! It’s the same thing I would do if you’re dealing with jet lag or you’re moving to a new time zone. Getting outside allows your child to soak up the ending day’s sunlight. This is a huge way for your body to trigger the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in our bodies that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep all night long. Let’s make sure we get outside, run around, play, play, play, go inside to get ready for bed, close the blinds and windows, and make the house a little bit darker. You don’t have to turn off the lights and get ready with a flashlight, but let’s just block out the natural sunlight so your child’s body is cued to produce the melatonin and help adjust them to this new schedule. 

How to help your older toddlers and preschoolers

Have a child who is not napping? For the most part, you could just jump into the day and either go with normal bedtime or adjust their schedule later if you’d like.  

If there’s one thing you’ve learned from me, it’s that sleep is complex. It is not black and white! There are lots of little what if’s and little gaps that have been left between this blog because I don’t know how your child sleeps. If your child is still waking up all night long and they’re 4+ months old, we need to sleep train! Take this quick quiz to find your child’s correct sleep training program and get started! It doesn’t even matter if you start the weekend OF time change! Everyone needs sleep! And now you know how to handle the time change anyways! 🙂 

Got to the end of this blog and are thinking, “I DON’T KNOW MY CHILD’S SCHEDULE! How are you supposed to change things?!” Gotcha covered, of course!!! Use our free schedule generator to find your child’s schedule! People tell us they use this every month to keep on top of their little’s sleep! Go for it! 

We’re gonna be okay, ya’ll! Spring Forward means warm weather!!! 


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