An excerpt from a blog posted by Jenica Blechschmidt - head sleep consultant of the Lovebug baby sleep app 🐞
If you are anything like me, you have heard those terms "Fall Back" and "Spring Forward," but you have no idea what they mean. So, let's break this down.
As a childless adult, you love when daylight saving time ends because your body is accustomed to waking up one hour earlier than the clock shows. So it feels like you can sleep in and start your day slower after daylight saving time ends.
When you are a child-full family, you don't get this benefit. Instead, your baby stays on the old-time and wakes up earlier according to the clock. So, while your baby had been waking up at 7 am, they are now waking up at 6 am, according to the clock. It's the opposite when daylight saving time starts - your baby will be accustomed to sleeping in later.
Many families are more scared of daylight saving time ending because it can create an early riser, and that's no fun for anyone.
Adults can adjust to the new time reasonably quickly, but baby and toddler bodies have difficulty adjusting. We only have to adapt to bedtime and wake time, and for babies and toddlers, we have to shift the entire 24-hour schedule.
At Lovebug, we teach three methods to adjust to a start or end in daylight savings time. There is no right or wrong approach - a different approach will be appropriate for each family. If you are having trouble picking your approach, the Lovebug app will help guide you to which method will be right for your family and baby.
Let's dive into each method...
Let's talk about using the Gradual Method to adjust your baby to the new time.
With the Gradual Method, you adjust your schedule by 10 minutes each day for a week before daylight saving time starts or ends in your time zone. If you are a Lovebug customer and you've selected the gradual method after the week has already begun, Lovebug will shift your schedule by the appropriate fraction to help catch you up. For example, if you have three days to adjust, your program will change by 20 minutes each day.
Here's how it works. Every family has a chosen wake time for their baby. You align your 24-hour schedule around this time. So, the best way to align your baby to a new 24-hour schedule will be to slowly shift every wake time and sleep time in the 24-hour schedule. That's what we will do!
Each day, you will move your morning wake time, nap start times, nap end times, and bedtime a little closer to the new post-daylight saving time. When daylight saving time ends, that means you are going to shift your morning wake time and all naps later by 10 minutes per day. Alternatively, when daylight saving time begins, you will shift your morning wake time, all nap times, and bedtime by 10 minutes earlier per day.
Let's run through a quick example. So suppose daylight saving time ends this coming Sunday. And, assume your chosen wake time today is 7 am. On Tuesday morning, you will make your wake time at 7:10 am. On Wednesday morning, we move to 7:20 am. On Thursday morning, we move to 7:30 am. On Friday morning, we move to 7:40 am. On Saturday morning, we move to 7:50 am. Then, we have daylight saving time on Sunday, but our baby has adjusted to the new 7 am waking. So, you are all set for the next week.
Let's talk about using the Quick Method to adjust your baby to the new time.
The Quick Method will adjust your schedule by 30 minutes the day before and *the* day that Daylight Saving Time starts or ends.
Here's how it works: start to shift your schedule one day before daylight saving time ends or begins. For most of you, that means Saturday morning. Suppose your chosen wake time is 7:00 am usually. That means when daylight saving time ends, you will see a chosen wake time of 7:30 am on Saturday morning. And then on *the* date that daylight saving time ends, you will see your regular wake time selected of 7:00 am. But that time on Sunday is actually 1 hour different from when your baby was getting the signals it's time to wake up before.
We want to shift back all of your nap times and bedtime to help your baby start adjusting to the change. If it's the spring, we do the same thing but bring the whole schedule earlier.
Your baby is likely not going to shift like a robot to their new schedule. If it were that simple, it would be great! We have to help them realize that there is a shift by changing how they experience their environment.
Let's talk about the science a bit: we are all on a 24-hour clock. Mainly the sun, the temperature changes, and when we eat programs this 24-hour body clock. When we switch time zones through traveling, we also shift our exposure to the sun and temperature and when we eat - at least if we follow regular meal times. These triggers help you adjust to the new time zone the fastest.
Daylight Saving Time ending or starting is essentially a 1-hour time shift. We will help our babies adjust to the new time by shifting when they are in their dark cave of an environment vs. their bright and shiny awake environment.
So, be very aware of naps and nights' start and end times near daylight saving time with this approach. You will help your baby adjust quickly when you are strict with changing the environment at new times.
Their body will adjust approximately 15 - 30 minutes each day, so we cut it close with the Quick Method, but it will be easier than a slam adjustment. When everyone in the family is on the same page with this adjustment, it will help.
Let's talk about what it means to turn "off" the daylight saving time adjustment.
In this approach, you keep your chosen wake time, your nap start times, and end times the same in the app pre-and post-daylight saving time change. Your baby's body may be waking early now, but they will be waking fine after the adjustment.
This one is relatively simple. Suppose your morning wake time is 7 am. Your morning wake time will then continue to be 7 am before and after the change.
How to choose the proper method for your family?
If you are reading this thinking, "wait...I still am not sure which method is right for my family. That’s ok! I encourage you to download the Lovebug app and take advantage of our free trial. In your Lovebug trial, you have access to all of my short video lessons. These short video lessons will walk you through each method in detail and help you decide which will be the best fit for your family. Once you choose your method, Lovebug will give you the step-by-step guidance you need to adjust your baby with minimal sleep disruptions. All you have to do is select the method you like best, and we'll do the rest!