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Health Matters

Sleep Survival (with kids) 101: The ‘Spring Forward’ Time Change

March 4th, 2015

Photo courtesy of Karey Wood Photography

Author: Jennifer Gowans

This week on Sunday March 8th, 2015, Daylight Savings starts and we ‘Spring Forward’ which means most of us are looking forward to our children sleeping in, even though WE lose an hour. Unfortunately, it also means your baby’s sleep can suffer.
Most people, if asked, would probably say that they stick to their regular schedules up until the point where they have to move the clock up an hour; however, this can be jarring on our system. Especially for young children who’s circadian rhythms and internal clocks are still forming and rely heavily on routine. Instead, one of the best ways to adjust to the time change is to ease into it! There are 3 methods used adjust to the time change:

1. Gradual ‘Pre- Spring Forward Day’ Transition
This transition requires that you start 5-7 days PRIOR to the actual date the clock change, in the following manor:

Step 1: Wake up your child 15 minutes earlier from her last nap of the day. For example if her last nap of the day is usually from 12:30pm to 2:30pm, she should go sleep at 12:30pm (same time) to 2:15pm (you wake her up 15 minutes earlier than usual).

Step 2: Move your child’s bedtime back 15 minutes each night. For example, if your child’s normal bedtime is 7pm, she should go to sleep at 6:45pm, 15 minutes earlier than usual.
This way, you will have shifted your baby’s schedule back by one hour by the time you have to move your clock forward one hour. Therefore, your baby would be in his normal schedule the first day of the Daylight Savings Time.

2. Gradual ‘Post- Spring Forward Day’ Transition
The day after the daylight savings time starts, your baby will most likely would wake up one hour later than usual (based on the clock).

Step 1: You will have to wake your baby up 45 minutes later than her regular schedule. For example, if her regular waking time (before the time change) was 7am, with DST that becomes 8am. However, you will not let her sleep until then. The first morning after the DST change, let her sleep only until 7:45am (45 later than her regular waking time).

Step 2: Your child’s naptime and bedtime will also 45 minutes later than her regular schedule the first day; 30 minutes later the second day; 15 minutes later the third day; and by the fourth day, she will be adjusted to the new time.

3. Immediate Transition

The day after the daylight savings time starts, you follow your baby’s regular schedule based on the Daylight Savings Time. Therefore, you switch your child ‘cold turkey’ to the new time and follow her regular schedule.

Step 1: You will most certainly have to wake your child up in the morning, since for her it’d be one hour too early, and go on with her day as usual. This option tends to be harder on children since (like adults) they would be ‘losing’ one hour of sleep the first day.

Some extra tips for helping with the transition:
• Get some exercise and fresh air during the day.
• Avoid high sugar or caffeinated foods like pop and chocolate
• Make sure you child is eating enough daytime calories, but try to limit food intake right before bedtime.
• If your child does need an evening snack, offer something that is easy-to-digest such as carbohydrates with a small amount of protein (for example - PB and crackers, or yogurt and granola)
• It will also help to avoid too much liquid before bed so that your little one doesn’t need to use the potty more than necessary.
• Have a strong, relaxing bedtime routine
• Use blackout curtains and/or a white-noise machine
• Make sure mom and dad are also well rested (as possible) and ready for the transition
Some babies and people in general, are natural early risers and so only some can successfully sleep late. If you are trying to encourage your baby to wake at 6 am rather than 5 am, you will be able to keep her on the “later” schedule as long as your baby is napping well and you are keeping her from being
overtired at night. Over-tiredness at bedtime is the #1 reason for waking too early! If you are unsure of how much nighttime sleep is age appropriate for your child, you can find more information on my website at but, in general, most young children need between 11-13 hours of nighttime sleep. If you child is getting less than this, transitioning to DSL may be even harder as the amount sunlight or unnatural light every person is exposed to helps to ‘set’ our internal clocks to be awake. One of the primary goals of Daylight Savings is to extend our daytime hours, which automatically leads to a later bedtime during the summer months.
As always, these tips are offered to help ease the transition, but in the end it is still a transition and it is perfectly normal if your child has trouble falling asleep the few days following Daylight Saving Time. Patience and consistency are key in making the move!

Jennifer Gowans is a Certified Sleep Consultant and founder of Rested Development Sleep Consulting. She helps families around the world get a good night sleep and has an impressive track record of helping families teach their babies to sleep. Her approach to sleep training is gentle, progressive, effective, holds the wellbeing of the child first, and follows the guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For more baby sleep tips, please visit or on Facebook at

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