Perhaps your baby has just settled into a sleep routine. Perhaps you have a newborn who hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it yet. In either case, the end of Daylight Savings may throw a little monkey wrench into your little monkey’s sleep pattern – and yours as well. Daylight Savings ends this year on November 3, and we all need to turn back the hands of time one hour. Darkness will fall over us in late afternoon sometime around 5:00 pm. It could be viewed as a long night ahead, or as an opportunity to create a bedtime routine that begins a bit earlier in the evening. On the other hand, an early riser may become an earlier riser with an extra hour on her hands. However, when you’re beginning with a good sleep routine as a foundation, a few tweaks may be all you need to catch up with the new time.
Research has shown just how important sleep is to our health and well-being. Of course, you want to be sure that your baby is getting all the sleep she needs to support her developing brain and body. Training your baby to fall asleep may be one of your most challenging parental tasks. Consistency in establishing nap and bedtime rituals is key. So before thinking about making any changes to accommodate a one-hour change in time, you’ll want to be sure that you’ve established a consistent routine. That routine, for instance, might include a bath, snuggle time and a lullaby.
Babies have a natural sleep window when melatonin is at its peak. Typically, depending on your baby’s age, it’s between 6:30 pm and 8:00 pm. You don’t want to mess with this window too much, because when the melatonin production declines, adrenaline picks up the ball. Adrenaline at bedtime translates into frequent night wake ups and early morning wake-up calls. Some helpful tools to support your baby falling asleep and staying asleep may include blackout curtains, a sound machine, pacifier and a cozy sleep sack.
Creating New Sleep Routines
The end of Daylights Savings may signal an opportunity to adjust your baby’s sleep pattern. Of course, it would be wonderful if she took advantage of that extra hour to sleep as much as you long to do the same. However, the reality is that babies have no ability or desire to sleep in. While it may be tempting to create sleep habits by the clock, your baby’s awake intervals and sleep cues are a better means of establishing bedtime and nap routines. They will provide baby with sleep just when she needs it. After about two weeks of acting on these cues, your baby will naturally fall into a rhythm and a sleep schedule will be created that you can work with.
Still, adjusting to falling back an hour may influence your baby’s sleep patterns to some degree. There are various ways you can help your baby’s sleep schedule adjust to the new time on the clock. No one knows your baby the way you do, so the approach you choose can be customized to suit her, and your, needs.
- Hold onto your current routine. Yes, you need to turn the clocks back an hour. Otherwise you can gently nudge your baby into waking, eating, and napping throughout the day to accommodate the new time. The first few days will be an adjustment for everyone (and you all might be a little grumpy) but the more you stick to the routines you’ve created, the quicker your baby will adjust to the time.
- Keep her in the dark. This may involve a bit of trickery, but honestly, your baby has no concept of what time it is, let alone the effects of Daylight Savings. Room-darkening curtains or black out shades just may speed up the time into dreamland.
- Make a gradual change. Beginning with the first day of the end of Daylight Savings you may want to extend her awake time by 15 minutes. Hopefully, you’ll reap the 15-minute sleep reward as a result. The following day employ the same tactic by 30 minutes. There may be a period of trial and error with a few minutes here and a few minutes there. The good news is that your baby’s internal clock will adjust to the change naturally.
Juggling Baby and Toddler Nap Routines
If you have a baby and a toddler at home, you know how much juggling needs to happen to get them both down for a nap at the same time. In short, that just might not happen. So, each child will need to have her own routine. However, you can strive to have some overlapping nap time.
- Just as with evening bedtime rituals, establish similar habits that signal it’s time to nap during the daylight hours.
- Involve your toddler in her little sister’s nap routine. She may be more amenable to napping as well, after she’s gotten her baby to sleep.
- Naps should ideally be at home. Plan your day of errands and outings around naptime so that your children get an optimum amount and quality of sleep.
- Try to schedule at least one overlapping nap for both kids. So, for instance if your baby is taking a morning, early afternoon and late afternoon nap, target your toddler’s nap for the early afternoon.
On some days, it may feel like a monumental task to get both your baby and toddler down for a nap. On other days it may be impossible to not be in the car during someone’s naptime. Life happens. You also know that getting enough sleep either during the day or overnight is vital to your children’s health. Establishing a routine and committing to it is a lifestyle choice that will pay off in dividends. With a little perseverance, before you know it, she’ll be sleeping like a baby.
To learn more about how Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny can help you with sleep training, please visit our Sleep Coaching Support page.