When you’re a new parent, looking on the bright side is a smart way to the weather the wild ride of infancy. This applies to everything from blow-outs (a chance to try on another sweet outfit before baby outgrows it!) to the arrival of Daylight Saving Time, also known as National Mess-with-Your-Baby’s-Sleep-Schedule.

In the case of DST, you have an extra hour of sun at the end of each day, so looking on the bright side should come naturally. But experienced parents know it takes some effort to see the bi-annual shuffle in a good light. With these few tried-and-true tips for helping baby adjust to Daylight Saving time, your child’s blissful bedtime routine—and your sanity—can remain largely unaffected. 

photo: smpratt90 via Pixabay

Start Early
The best way to keep DST from throwing your baby’s routine out of whack is by preparing for the change before it hits. While approaches vary slightly, most experts suggest moving baby’s bedtime by 15 minutes every other day in the week leading up to the seasonal shift. So, if baby typically goes down around 7:30 p.m., shift bedtime back in quarter-hour increments until you reach the “new” bedtime of 6:30, which, with the time change, will actually still be 7:30 p.m.—the original bedtime. Adjust naps the same way.

Go Dark
Control how much light baby is exposed to in the hour leading up to bedtime to keep your sleep schedule on track. Here’s why: Light exposure has a direct influence on the body’s circadian rhythm (internal biological clock). Less light signals our body to become sleepy, while more light stimulates us to feel awake. As the new bedtime hour approaches (and the sun continues to shine), close the blinds and dim the lights in your home. 

Most importantly, if you haven’t already invested in blackout curtains, run, don’t walk, to your nearest home goods store to snag these miracles from heaven in fabric form. Keeping baby’s room dark will help your little one settle into sleep, even with the sun in full force. Bonus tip: If light continues to seep in around the edges of your nursery windows, clueing baby into your blackout curtain trickery, attach double-sided adhesive Velcro tabs to your wall and to the back of your curtains. Then, simply press to seal the edges and block out the light. Take that, sunshine! 

photo: NewportBaptistChurchNC via Pixabay

Head to Hawaii
If hunkering down in the dark with baby for a stint doesn’t sound appealing, but tropical breezes do, here’s a little known fact: The state of Hawaii has never observed DST. Or if an arid climate is more up your alley, most of the state of Arizona also doesn’t observe DST, after voting in 1968 not to adopt the otherwise nationwide Uniform Time Act, which is responsible for having us “spring forward” and “fall back.” We can only surmise that state legislatures in Hawaii and Arizona are primarily made up of parents.

Sound It Out
For those still reading (aka not currently packing up for Hawaii or Arizona), we have another tip to help you conquer DST with ease—and still enjoy some ocean sounds without a trans-Pacific move: Invest in a white noise machine. It’s not realistic to expect the rest of the world (or, just your family) to slip into silence to help preserve baby’s peaceful sleeping environment post time-change, but a white noise machine will preserve the illusion that they have — at least within your nursery’s four walls.

In addition to tuning out your older kids enjoying the extra hour of light or your neighbor taking advantage of the shift by mowing his lawn after work, many parents find that the steady hum soothes baby right to sleep. Bonus tip: Place the sound machine at least three feet away from your baby’s sleep space to keep cords out of reach, and, to lessen the impact on baby’s developing ears, set the machine to a low volume on the shortest timer (or switch off manually once baby is asleep). Check out our favorite white noise machines and other baby sleep aids.

photo: Joko_Narimo via Pixabay

Give It Time
For babies particularly sensitive to change, it can take a couple of weeks for them to adjust to a new schedule. So if your little one fails to get with the program at first, even after trying the above steps, don’t stress. Within a week or two, baby’s sleep schedule should catch up as the new normal settles in.

Roll with It
In the meantime, if you have a wee one who isn’t cooperating despite your best efforts, try to look on the bright side. If baby used to go down at 7 p.m. but has temporarily shifted to 8 p.m., use that additional hour for stories and snuggles. With a little luck, the new evening routine will give you the chance to sleep in an extra hour in the morning. But, if baby still wakes up bright-eyed at the pre-time-shift hour, remember: This won’t last forever. As they say, the hours surrounding DST may seem long, but the years really are short.

—Suzanna Palmer

featured photo: iStock

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