Q. Our first child's sleep schedule was always totally thrown off by time changes when she was a baby. How can we prepare our new baby for next month's "fall back" so we don't repeat those weeks of misery?
A. We will be “falling back” on Sunday, Nov. 4, this year when Daylight Saving Time comes to an end. But it’s not too early to start planning for it now.
Parents have a couple of options for helping their children make the transition off Daylight Saving, one of which is to do nothing. This is great for babies with easygoing temperaments and for parents who don’t realize it’s time to set the clocks back until that very night! Basically, you put baby to bed at the usual time and stick to your schedule. On Sunday you put baby to bed when it says 7 p.m. on the clock (if that’s bedtime) even though it’s really 8 p.m.
Some people will choose to put their baby to bed on Saturday a wee bit later than usual in hopes of moving through the change easier. It may or may not make a difference.
Another option is to slowly change your baby’s schedule in small increments four days ahead of the time change. Put baby to bed later in 15-minute increments until Sunday, Nov. 4. This includes starting naps 15 minutes later than usual, also. By the time Sunday rolls around, you should have adjusted sleep time by a full hour.
Again, we’re playing with internal clocks here, so it may or may not work, but if you have a baby who is sensitive to changes, the incremental approach may be worth trying. If your baby is sensitive to changes in his or her sleep schedule, only change as much as he or she can tolerate.
Whatever way you choose to address the issue, or not, it’s probably going to take a week or two for your child to adjust to the change, so be patient, get lots of fresh air and sunshine by day, and stay consistent.
Pam Diamond is a parent coach, postpartum doula, baby sleep consultant and owner of First Daze & Nightzzz, LLC. Pam’s goal is to help parents and babies get off to the best possible start. She helps families fix what’s not working and enjoy what is. She lives in Cary with her husband and two teenage children. You can learn more about Pam on her website: http://firstdaze.com, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.