Daylight savings and your baby's sleep routine

Daylight savings and sleep routines

As if getting babies into a good sleep routine wasn't hard enough, the commencement or end of daylight saving can add an extra element to the challenge of getting your kids to bed each night.

While moving the clock forward or back one hour is something that makes adults sleepy for a couple of days as their bodies adjust to the change, it can take babies a lot longer to assume a new sleep routine but there are ways you can minimise the impact of daylight saving on your child's sleep patterns.

How to change to and from daylight saving time

To change your baby’s sleep routine to daylight saving time, it's best to alter his body clocks in small increments over the period of a week so that by the time the clocks do move forward an hour, you already have your baby's routine altered to match the time change.

To change his body clock to daylight saving time:

  • Each night in the week leading up to daylight saving, put your baby to bed ten minutes earlier. If he usually goes to bed at 7pm, put him to bed at 6.50pm the first night, then 6.40pm the second night and so on until you have moved his bedtime back to 6pm. When daylight saving starts, you'll have him very neatly going to bed at 7pm again!
  • Don't keep your baby up longer than usual in the afternoon in a bid to get him to bed earlier - overtired babies usually struggle to get to sleep so you may just find that you have a cranky baby on your hands who falls asleep later than he would normally. Exactly what you don't want!

To change his body clock to standard time:

  • Each night in the week leading up to the change to standard time put your baby to bed ten minutes later. If he usually goes to bed at 7pm, put him to bed at 7.10pm the first night, then 7.20pm the second night until you have moved his bedtime forward to 8pm. That way, when the clocks change you will have him in bed at 7pm again.
  • While you may be successful in changing your baby's routine so he gets to bed at the proper time, don't be surprised if he wakes at exactly the same time each morning - and this may mean some very early starts for you! Sleeping habits can take some time to sort out, so it may take him a couple of weeks before he starts to sleep a little longer in the morning.

Daylight savings tips

  • Try making his room darker when it comes to bedtime - as daylight savings does give you extra light at the end of the day, and this usually means that parents of infants are faced with putting their children to bed in broad daylight.
  • If your baby keeps waking early after a week of two of the time change, check that you aren't sending him the wrong messages - if you get up with him at 5am rather than try to resettle him until 6am, your baby will learn that 5am is an acceptable time to start the day - which it's not!
  • Babies with good sleep routines tend to cope well with the change in time as they recognise the going to bed routine as a sign to relax and prepare for sleep, no matter what time of the day or night it is.
  • Generally it takes about a week after the clocks have changed for everyone, no matter what age, to be in a new sleeping pattern so try to have patience if you have a tired and grumpy child on your hands in the days after the time change.


When does daylight saving start and finish?

Daylight saving begins on the last Sunday in September and ends on the first Sunday in April - a total of 27 weeks

This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot, New Zealand's parenting resource for toddlers.

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