Welcome to daylight saving time, also known as "are you flipping kidding me?" As if getting children to sleep isn't complicated enough, springing forward an hour on March 11 is bound to disrupt your, well, life. And you aren't exactly keen on it for yourself either. In fact, researchers have begun to prove that the whole thing is kind of a load of crap and takes a toll on your health. But since the time change is happening anyway, what do you about your sleepless kids? Here's how to adjust your baby to daylight saving time.
"Some people use the Sunday of the time change to sleep in and let their babies sleep in as well, which makes the first day of the transition a piece of cake," Chris Brantner, a certified sleep science coach at SleepZoo.com, tells Romper in an email interview. "However, what often ends up happening is they try to put their babies to sleep an hour earlier that night, as many people have to adjust their schedules for work, day care, and/or school on Monday. The problem is that your baby probably isn’t tired enough to go to sleep an hour early."
The result? "Bedtime ends up being extremely frustrating," Brantner says.
"Not only that, but the next morning can prove to be a nightmare if you have to wake up your baby at a certain time to be off," he says. "That abrupt change of schedule is almost certain to prove a disastrous start to your week."
One of the biggest struggles with adjusting bedtime, of course, will be the fact that it stays light later into the night, Brantner says. "That makes it difficult for your baby to wind down in preparation for sleep."
The key is to move gradually, Brantner says, trying the new schedule a week to a few days in advance by making bedtime 15 minutes earlier every couple of days. "This gradual change will help your baby ease into the bedtime, making it much more likely they’ll be on schedule come the Monday after daylight saving time begins."
Pampers noted that you may have a bit of an easier time with the transition if your child is already a solid sleeper (11 to 12 hours a night and two to four hours of napping a day depending on the age) and waking up between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. — you won't have to do much adjusting. On the other hand, problem solvers will need a proactive solution, starting the transition at least a week prior to daylight saving time.
And don't be afraid to also adjust your own sleep schedule. "As a parent, it’s likely you’re already dealing with sleep deprivation," Brantner says. "Losing an hour by springing forward can be disastrous if you’re already exhausted."
You'll also want to be sure and expose your baby to natural light as early as possible because it helps reset the circadian rhythm, Brantner says. "At night, be sure to start winding down 30 minutes to an hour prior to bedtime," he says. Blackout curtains and low lighting can also help your child begin winding down.
One thing is for sure: "Don’t wait until Sunday night and expect things to go smoothly — it probably won’t," Brantner says.
Which is really at the core of parenting, right? Erasing expectations and learning how to go — at least a bit more — with the flow. It's definitely not always easy, especially when you are awake at 2 a.m. and pleading for your little one to go to sleep. But, there is, perhaps a small silver lining: You definitely aren't alone in your frustration.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.