Spring Forward is terrible on everyone, but it's a special kind of nightmare for parents of babies. When babies' sleep schedules get thrown out of whack, they act like little scream demons with anger problems. That's why it's essential to learn how to help your baby adjust to Spring Forward before it gets out of hand, and all hell breaks loose.
Losing an hour of sleep during the most sleepless period of your life is like adding insult to injury, and navigating a way out of it seems impossible. Thankfully, people have been studying this for years, and there is quality advice for those who need it most (beyond investing in earplugs). Interestingly enough, Eva Klein, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, tells Romper that one of the best options for guiding your baby through the time change is not to do anything at all. Seriously. "Allow the time change to automatically shift your child's schedule by an hour," she says, explaining that their schedule will find its own way within a few days.
The real key to a successful time change, according to Sleep Baby Love, is knowing your child. What kind of sleeper are they? Are they a sensitive sleeper? A light sleeper? Do they fall over at 6 p.m. and then rise bright and bushy 10 hours later? This will help you evaluate which tactic is best for your baby.
For babies who do well on a schedule, the answer might be as simple as timing. This means that you'll start shifting their schedules a bit earlier for a few days before Spring Forward begins, noted Today's Parent. Think in terms of 20 minute intervals. That means on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, you'll move their bedtime up by 20 minutes each night, so that come Sunday night, they're back to their regularly scheduled program.
This is the method that I used for my daughter and it worked quite well. She wasn't really a sensitive sleeper, so the slight adjustments weren't a big deal. I just tried my best to wear her out during the day, and at night she was ready to go down a little earlier.
My son, however, was a different story. As a baby he was an extremely sensitive sleeper. He had a regimented nap schedule, and sleeping through the night didn't happen until he was almost a year old. I tried pushing his schedule for fall back, but he wasn't having it. He slept when he wanted to, if he wanted to, and that was that. So for him, I took one on the chin. The days before Spring Forward I woke his tiny booty up earlier and earlier, and thankfully, he was so food motivated that if boobs or biscuits were available, he was ready to get up. He was a cranky pants for a few days, but it wasn't the worst thing ever.
Whatever approach you end up taking, remember that this is a relatively brief phase. Just breathe through it, parents. The harried nature of Daylight Savings does even out eventually.
Eva Klein, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant