What I Should Have Been Prepared For… Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time. Some love it. Some hate it. I had forgotten about it. In the United States, ‘fall back’ time was this past Sunday at 2am November 3rd 2013. I didn’t realize this, and so didn’t put my 13 month old baby to bed later to compensate. So on Sunday morning when she woke up at 5:20am, it turned out to be 4:20am (and I thought some of the clocks in the house were wrong…)! Then I had to reap the consequences. Baby was fussy already from teething, so it didn’t help that she was then tired and fussy the rest of the day as well.

So from what I’ve learned, here are some ways to help you and baby survive the next Daylight Savings Time (DST) switch:

‘Spring Forward’ Tips (losing an hour): 
Start DST earlier! The night before, try to put baby to bed ½ hour or so earlier to compensate. Make baby busier with more activities so that he or she will be more tired and ready to sleep earlier that night.

If you forgot about DST, then try these suggestions:

  • If baby sleeps later, then breakfast will be later, so you can feed baby a bigger breakfast, and minimize or omit the morning snack. This way, baby may be hungrier for an ‘earlier’ lunch.
  • You can minimize or cut the morning nap if you want baby to sleep longer and at the usual afternoon nap time.
  • That day, you may need more activities to keep baby busy and more tired so baby will be ready for an earlier bedtime.

‘Fall Back’ Tips (gaining an hour):
Start DST earlier! You may need to put baby to bed ½ -1 hour later to compensate the night before.

If you forget about DST (like me), then try these suggestions:

  • Keep meals/snacks on schedule: baby has a bio-clock and a small stomach so don’t delay those snacks unless you want a fussier/grouchier baby! You can also give bigger snacks in between to keep baby’s energy up for the longer day that baby has as a result.
  • You may need to put baby down for an extra short cat nap in the morning to compensate if baby ends up getting up earlier. If you succeed with that, then you can try to keep the lunch and afternoon nap at the same (new adjusted) times.
  • If baby is super tired and didn’t take an extra nap earlier in the day, then you would need to move up lunch and afternoon nap earlier in the day to compensate, and try to gradually adjust the lunch, afternoon nap and bedtimes the next day or two until the new adjusted schedule is reached. For some babies, gradual changes work the best!
  • Another idea  is to let baby sleep longer for the afternoon nap, so that he or she will be able to stay up longer in the late afternoon, to go to bed at a later bedtime. You can schedule in a few activities to keep baby busy especially towards the evening so she won’t realize she’s tired as much, till later!

What’s the take home message? Don’t forget about Daylight Savings Time! You will now need to help not just one, but two people adjust—yourself and baby! Otherwise, it can impact baby’s meals, naps, night time sleep and ability to function at nursery/preschool over the next day or two. Imagine this scenario: if baby gets up too early, then she would get tired earlier in the day, and this could then impact on school as baby would not be able to last the whole morning at school. So, then I would need to bring baby back home sooner to eat lunch earlier in case she gets too cranky to eat, and then put her to bed for the afternoon nap earlier…well, you get the picture.

So be prepared when it next hits! The next daylight savings time switch is scheduled in the US to be Sunday 9th March 2014 (spring forward, lose an hour), and ends Sunday November 2014 (fall back, gain an hour). And yes, the Daylight Savings Time does start and end differently for the UK. Next ones for the UK are Sunday March 30, 2014 (spring forward), and ends Sunday October 26 2014 (fall back)!

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