How to Get Your Baby Through Daylight Savings 2011

Baby Daylight Savings 2010The end of Daylight Savings is when we turn our clocks back one hour and is one of the biggest worries for parents of young babies. Daylight savings this year ends in Europe this weekend on October 30th and on November 6th here in the United States (most of them). I start getting questions about the time change up to a month or more ahead of time and understandably so, which is why this year I made sure I did a tele-seminar back in September about it, for those who wanted to get ahead in tackling this very “scary” issue. If your baby is already waking too early, just the thought of your baby waking an hour earlier is enough to make the calmest parent have a few butterflies. If you’re like me who obsesses about sleep (how else could I write about this every week?), it wouldn’t be surprising if you feel extra anxious about your 5 a.m. waker-upper waking up at 4 a.m. This article will help you survive Daylight Savings 2011.

If you already have a baby waking too early

For those of you who have an early riser, you may want to start working on your baby’s schedule, now. If your baby is 6 months or older and isn’t napping well enough, you may want to help your baby nap longer and get on a schedule in the next week, so when the time changes you will be able to adjust easier, keeping your baby from getting overtired. When your baby is already taking short naps, it’s very difficult to put her to bed at her normal bedtime, now an hour “later” than usual. Better napping means an easier transition.

If your baby is already waking up too early in the morning, in relation to your ideal family schedule, I’d recommend doing some preemptive work ahead of the time change to ease the transition. Moving your baby’s schedule isn’t always easy, but in the next week or two, you can successfully move your baby’s schedule forward by an hour and then move it again, if necessary, to achieve your family’s ideal schedule.

For example, your baby may be waking at 5 a.m., but you’d like her to wake at 6 a.m. or later. So, ideally, you would move her schedule forward one hour to 6 a.m., wait for the time to change (where she will be waking at 5 a.m. once again) and then move her schedule forward, again. This works best when your baby is at least 8 months old, but some 6 month old schedules can be moved as well. Younger babies generally will adjust naturally within a few days to two weeks as long as you don’t strictly stick to the earlier schedule (a young baby’s sleep is already highly disorganized). If you are interested, I go over detailed steps (with examples) to moving your baby’s schedule in my pamphlet called Shift Your Baby’s Schedule (I know not a very original title, but I’ve found that tired parents don’t always enjoy clever. :) They just want answers, which I try to provide straight and to-the-point in all my e-Books.). I’ve included a case study that followed one family’s schedule shift whom I worked with one-on-one. And, if you want a day-by-day plan to follow customized to your baby or toddler, I can read your history, review your sleep logs (if you have them), and tell you exactly what to do over the next few weeks. Some babies/toddlers are easier than others, so results do vary, but if you don’t try, you don’t know! You can purchase the book with a consultation at a discounted price, but if you need more than just help with a schedule change, I’d highly recommend a Personalized Sleep Plan™, which is much more comprehensive.

How to handle Daylight Savings

You have three options to handle the time change when Daylight Savings ends, as I went over in my article Time Change Sleeping Tips on (2 years ago but the options don’t change much year-to-year) and then again in more detail in my tele-seminar mentioned above.

The key to choosing the best strategy is your baby’s sensitivity to being overtired. If your baby isn’t overly sensitive to being overtired and is not already waking up before dawn, you might just “go with the flow” and wait for the time to change. Many babies will adjust within a few days to a week, just like we do. You will likely have to wake up “earlier” for a few days, since babies tend to sleep in less than adults, though.

For some babies, they will follow a combination of the abrupt time change and a gradual shift. The main thing to remember is that a too-late bedtime can cause over-tiredness leading to an even EARLIER wake-up time in the morning, which will make Daylight Savings even more difficult to manage. Remember that the new 7 p.m. is the old 8 p.m. and can likely have an adverse effect on your baby’s schedule. Rather than follow what your friends might be doing, make sure you take into consideration your baby’s sensitivity and adaptability when tackling the end of Daylight Savings. And, if your baby is already struggling to sleep, there is no time like the present to make the time change the time to make a change.

If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. If you become a member, you get access to all our e-Books AND the tele-seminar recording (as well as all the others, too, so basically you get access to everything in an organized way).

For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

How will you handle daylight savings in 2011?


  1. Dyan says

    Crazy as it sounds, I can’t wait for November 6th! From about day 1 with my son we have been doing the “when its dark you sleep and when the sun comes up you get up”. We throw open the curtains and make a big deal out of “the sun is up, good morning”. Works great, until he started school this year and the sun started coming up later (not until almost 8). I need him up by 7:30 at the latest to make it to school without rushing. Been having a hard time explaining to my 2-year-old this past month that “the sun is on its way up, today we are going to wake up the sun” but not Saturday…let the “sun” (Mommy) sleep. If left to his own devices he will sleep until 8:15 or so. Blackout curtains are a miracle worker!

  2. Lainie says

    As always, thanks for the article. I can’t ever remember how to handle the time change.

    Since my 3yo doesn’t take naps and is very tired at the end of the day, and my 19 mo is young and therefore sensitive to being over tired, I think I’ll try the method of waiting till the time changes, then gradually pushing their bed time later back to their original 7:30.


  3. Mahua Mandal says

    My son is now transitioning from 2 naps to 1 nap, so he’s a bit all over the place these past few weeks anyway. Days he takes only 1 nap, bedtime is at 6 PM. Days he takes 2 naps bedtime is usually 7 or 7:15 PM. Sometimes he’s up at 6:00 AM…sometimes he up at 4:00 AM, falls back asleep an hour or two later, then sleeps in until 7 or 8 AM. Some days he refuses the morning nap, other days he refuses his afternoon nap. I was pretty worried about this time change a few weeks ago, but I think I just need to let my very inconsistent little one just gradually adjust when the times adjusts and our whole household schedule shifts. A few months ago I tried shifting his schedule (so he would sleep in past 5 or 5:30), but I just ended up with an overtired, cranky baby who HATED being woken up from his naps. I finally gave up b/c I felt so bad for him (especially in the afternoons, he was miserable), and a couple of months later he just naturally started waking up closer to or even after 6:00. We might have a few rocky weeks (even rockier with his nap transition), but – as much as I can – I’m just going to let him adjust slowly on his own. Especially since he always throw a wrench into my plans for his nap schedules :)

  4. Lori says

    Mahua, your little guy sounds just like my 15-month-old. He is very sensitive to being overtired and also going through a nap transition. Right now, we have no schedule, and he always seems tired! I guess we are just going to go with the flow as well. I’ll sure be glad when he gets back into some sort of routine.

  5. says

    @Dyan You are in the minority, but it doesn’t sound crazy at all! :) Once you need them up for school, it’s very different. My Kindergartener now has to be up by 6:15 a.m. and you don’t know how much that pains me. The big difference is now on the weekend, he gets up and I don’t have to get up, too. 😀

    @Lainie You’re welcome! Sounds like a good plan. Good luck!

    @Mahua I hear ya on the inconsistent babies throwing you for a loop! Make sure you keep bedtime very early during the transition. This transition to one nap can be very difficult for some, but it sounds like you are doing a great job giving him what he needs! I hope he adjusts very quickly to the time change. Good luck!!

    @Lori Good luck with the time change!! It can be tough with the transition and inconsistency. Sometimes when we are too flexible with inconsistent babies, we can actually make them more tired by allowing schedules to be too loose, but during a nap transition those rules tend to fly out the window. I hope he adjusts quickly to the new nap schedule and the time change!

  6. Jill Church says

    Yikes! I am doing the schedule adjustment early and it’s not going so well. I figured I’d be brave and shift everything an hour and a half since her 5:15ish wake time is sooo early. My 13 month old was going to bed fairly exhausted at 6pm and waking around 5:15 and I’d usually ignore her til 6. Over the last 12 days I’ve pushed her to a 7:15 bedtime and ignoring her in the morning til 6:45- in theory. This morning, after waking screaming 6 or 7 times last night (usually she sleeps soundly until 4:30 or so then hopefully dozes til after 5) she woke screaming at 5:45 and continued screaming until I couldn’t stand it any more at 6:30. I’m going to stay the course and not do any more adjusting until she has a more appropriate wake time. Any advice? When should I expect her to adjust? Also, she takes two naps used to be at 830 and 1:00ish now at 9:45 and 2-2:15ish, both about an hour long. The second nap is usually difficult to get. We have nap and bedtime routines and while she does occasionally put herself to sleep she usually falls asleep nursing. I’d appreciate any advice or encouragement! Thanks!

  7. Evelin says

    To Jill: I read like I have been written this myself. I know exactly what you’re going through. In the mornings she wakes up at 6am (if not earlier) and is full of play. She cries alone in her room, so in last week I gave up and started to sleep from her first wake (5am) in her room. So I sleep and she can play around and see that I’m next to her. Then she wakes me up about 7ish with a poo or saying: nyamm-nyamm what means she is hungry. I got my extra hour and she didn’t cry in the morning. All won.
    That’s my solution. :)))

  8. says

    @Jill How long did you take to shift 1 1/2 hours? That is usually a fairly big shift that would take 2-3 weeks. Go too fast and it generally leads to a lot of over-tiredness. Sometimes you do need to have “breather” days, too, where you don’t shift at all. You might give her a “break” with a 6:45 p.m. bedtime (but same naps since she’s napping 1+ hour for each) and then continue shifting, again. It can be brutal to get through a schedule shift, but a few weeks later, it’s often very worth it! I remember when I shifted my son around 8 months that it was a really rough two weeks, but when he went from waking at ~5 or 5:30 a.m. to waking after 7 a.m., it was soooo worth it! At one time we even got to 8 a.m. :) Good luck!!!

    @Evelin I’m glad you found a solution that works for you! I personally can’t sleep so easily like that, but I’m glad it works for you! :)

  9. Debbye says

    Hi Jen- Thanks for sharing the link. What a cute (and oh so true) card!