Handling Daylight Saving Time: 3 Ways To Prevent “Springing Forward” From Ruining Your Baby or Toddler’s Sleep Schedule

spring forward time change

Happy March, Baby Sleep Site® readers! If you’re anything like me, you’re eager to put February behind you. All that snow and ice and biting cold make the shortest month of the year feel like the longest, in my opinion.

Of course, if you’re reading this from a tropical location right now, and freezing cold wasn’t part of your February, then I have only one thing to say to you… Invite me over next February? 😉

Now that we’ve entered the month of March, we have something besides ice and snow to occupy our attention: the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. And if you have a baby or toddler at home, one thing is certain. You’ll want to make a plan, so that “springing forward” doesn’t result in too much sleep-and-feeding-schedule craziness.

And we’re here to help you make your plan! Today, we’ll explore 3 options for dealing with the upcoming time change. We’ll also review a short list of general tips for making DST easier for everyone.

3 Scheduling Options To Make “Springing Forward” Easier

What can you do to prevent springing forward from wreaking havoc on your baby or toddler’s schedule? Let’s take a look at your options:

  1. Don’t do anything. This is the best option for parents whose babies or toddlers are currently waking too early. If that’s the case, then simply “go with the flow” of the time change. Do that, and the baby who was waking at 5 a.m. will now wake closer to 6. The toddler who was rising at 6 a.m. probably won’t wake until 7. Early rising problem solved! Meals, nap times, and bedtime will also (probably) adjust themselves accordingly.

    Of course, this isn’t always an option. If your baby or toddler already has a late bedtime, then it might not be feasible to have bedtime happen a whole hour later. Or perhaps you need your child out of bed and ready to go at a certain time each morning. If that’s the case, then letting her sleep in for an extra hour won’t be possible.

    This option also won’t work for parents who happen to like their baby or toddler’s current schedule, thank you very much, and don’t want to change it.

    This brings us to option 2…

  2. Stick to your child’s normal schedule. You’re not actually doing any schedule shifting here. You’re simply observing your baby or toddler’s “old” times for meals, naps, and bedtime. So, for example, if your baby was consistently waking at 7 a.m. before the time change, then wake her at 7 a.m. after the time change (even though 7 a.m. was 6 a.m. just a few days ago.)

    Similarly, if your toddler was going to bed at 8 p.m. before the time change, then put him to bed at 8 after the time change (even though 8 p.m. was 7 p.m. just a few days ago.) Do the same for naps and meals.

    Make sense? This is definitely more of a schedule-oriented method than a child-oriented method, and you may find that it doesn’t work out perfectly at first. Your baby may not sleep at all when her bedtime rolls around since her internal clock is telling her that it’s too soon for bed. Or your toddler may be sleepy in the morning, even though you’re waking him at his normal wake-up time because his internal clock is telling him it’s too early to wake up. Same with naps and meals.

    However, after a few days (or maybe a week), your baby or toddler will probably adjust. And if you really, really want (or need) to preserve your current schedule, then this is the option you’ll probably want to try first.

  3. Split the difference. This is a nice, middle-of-the-road option for parents who can’t let DST shift their schedule by a whole hour but who also know that sticking to the old schedule won’t work well for their situation.

    With this option, you shift the schedule by 30 minutes. So, the example scenarios would look like this: if your baby was waking at 7 a.m. before the time change, then wake her at 7:30 after the time change. If your toddler was going to bed at 8 p.m. before the time change, then put him to bed at 8:30 after the time change. Adjust naps and meals by 30 minutes, too.

    You can stick with this schedule long-term, if it works for you. But if you want to get back to your pre-DST schedule, you can do that, too. Simply go with the “split the difference” routine for a few days/weeks. Then, shift everything back to its original time. So, in the above scenarios, your baby’s wake time would return to 7 a.m. (as opposed to 7:30 a.m.), and your toddler’s bedtime would go back to 8 p.m. (as opposed to 8:30 p.m.)

    This is a nice way to ease your baby or toddler into the time change. It keeps the “post-DST” schedule pretty consistent with the current schedule, but it also accounts for your baby’s or toddler’s internal clock.

Tips to Remember When Planning for Daylight Saving Time

Regardless of which option you end up choosing, be sure to keep these tips in mind as you create your DST plan:

  • Our internal clocks are powerful things. Some babies’ and toddlers’ internal clocks will be so strong, they’ll defy your carefully-planned schedule. Try as you might, you won’t be able to get your toddler into bed at 8 p.m. His internal clock will be too busy screaming, “But it’s only 7!” And really, our adult clocks behave the same way, don’t they? In my pre-kid days, I had to wake up for work at 5:30 each weekday morning. And on Saturdays, the one blessed day each week that I had a chance to sleep as late as I wanted, guess what time I usually woke up? Yep. 5:30 a.m.I repeat: your child’s internal clock is a powerful thing. So respect it as you create your post-DST schedule.
  • Two things will drive your child’s schedule: sunlight and routine. Simply put, sunlight tells us it’s time to wake up (and stay awake). As we approach summer, and our days start to get longer, and our nights shorter, you may find that the extra sunlight is impacting bedtime (making it later) and wake-up time (making it earlier). If that becomes an issue, consider investing in some good room darkening shades. This’ll help keep your baby or toddler on track, sleep-wise.The daily routine will also help create and reinforce your child’s sleep schedule. As you’re working to adjust to DST, remember — now is the time to stick with your predictable, daily routines! Doing so will help your baby or toddler adjust to the time change faster.
  • Most children will adjust quickly, but some will take longer. Most babies and toddlers will adjust to the time change in a week or so. For some though, it may be more like weeks, with an “s”! If that’s the case with your baby or toddler, don’t panic. Simply ride out this season and trust that as long as you stay consistent, things will work themselves out. Of course, if they don’t, you can always contact us for help! Click here to view our consultation packages.

How are you planning to cope with the time change?

The Baby Sleep Site® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other product affiliate programs. If you click on a product link and make a purchase, The Baby Sleep Site® may (but not always) receive a small commission from the company selling the product, but will not affect your purchase price. We only recommend products that we believe are quality products and are good for our readers.

Holistic Sleep Solutions from The Baby Sleep Site®

e-Book bundles

Do-It-Yourself: Just getting started with your research but you want to stop Googling? Choose from any of our e-Book bundles for practical advice you can put to use TODAY!  

Become a VIP Member

Do-It-Mostly-Yourself: Would you like to continue learning with the option of chatting with a sleep consultant? We have a perfect solution! Become a VIP Member for access to all of our premium content, “ask the author,” audio courses, live weekly chat, and more!

Get a Personalized Sleep Plan

Work With a Sleep Expert: Tap into over a decade of experience with thousands of families before you! Get a Personalized Sleep Plan® just for your unique situation, get guidance and answers to all your “what if?” questions while you work through your plan, and benefit from expert support along the way. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard “I wish I had done this sooner!” Not sure? Read these stories from well-rested parents.

Don’t lose another wink of sleep — GET STARTED TODAY with our gentler, kinder approach to healthy sleep!

Since starting in 2008, we’ve gained over 10,000 comments on our blog!

At this time, we’ve turned the comment sections off. We would, of course, love to hear from you! For help with your specific sleep problems, please learn more about our DIY resources or our sleep consultation services. Or, consider emailing us for a fast and helpful response!

16 thoughts on “Handling Daylight Saving Time: 3 Ways To Prevent “Springing Forward” From Ruining Your Baby or Toddler’s Sleep Schedule”

  1. My baby goes to bed at 7:30pm and had recently started waking up at 5:30-5:45 I’m hoping the time change helps him sleep later but I’m wondering if an 8pm bedtime would work for him or if we switch it will he most likely just start waking early again since that’s technically 7? Should we wait a week before starting to put him to bed at 8?

    • @Amanda – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. The Spring Forward Daylight Saving Time change is usually not quite as “terrible” as the Fall Back time change, however preparing ahead of time for either can make a world of difference. Tweaking bed and wake times before the change as you’re thinking of doing can be a good preemptive or post-change step. It’s going to be up to you how you’d like to handle this – if you’d like support with the best way to approach or recover from the time change, please consider connecting with one of our sleep consultants who can walk you through tweaking your schedule and getting sleep on a good DST track. You can read more about our team here:https://www.babysleepsite.com/about Hang in there, Amanda!

  2. My daughter is almost 6 months and currently we were waking her 615 or 639 but she always woke up around 5ish so we left her in her crib until wake time today time changed so we let her get up at 620 to fix early wake times my question though later when it’s bedtime won’t she be thinking it’s too early with a bedtime of 630

    • @Amanda Yes, our bodies take a few days to adjust to the new time. I hope she keeps waking later for you. Good luck!

  3. I’m confused about the “do nothing” option in terms of bedtime. Ours goes to bed now at 6. Would we put her to bed at 6 the night before DST and then at 7 from then on after (so it feels like 6)? Or, do we try to keep her going to bed at 6 (which would feel like 5?)

    • @ Cassie – the ‘do nothing’ option is good if you feel like 6 p.m. is too early. What you’d do then is put her to bed at her normal time, and then odds are, she’ll wake an hour later the next morning (because after you spring forward, sleeping the same number of hours will mean she’s actually waking an hour later). From there, you can keep that new wake-time (say it’s 7 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. as the new wake-time, and you’d adjust her naps and bedtime accordingly, pushing them back (so bedtime in this scenario may happen at 7 p.m. the night after the time change).

      Does that help? The ‘do nothing’ part may be a bit misleading, in that you do have to ‘do’ something after the time change – you would put her down at a different time. It really just means that you don’t have to do anything to preserve the existing schedule, since you are intending to let the time change run its course and shift her schedule back by an hour.

      Hope that’s helpful! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

Comments are closed.

FREE Guide: Five Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night

Join over 450,000 parents around the world & sign up today to receive the guide and our Baby Sleep Newsletter absolutely FREE!