Successful sleep - adjusting to daylight saving
Getting your baby into a successful sleep routine can be a challenge - but when the clocks change, how do you get your baby to adjust?
Daylight Savings Time normally begins in the wee hours of the last Saturday in October. This time change affects those in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT. In Tasmania there is sometimes a few weeks difference between when daylight savings begins and ends. Daylight Savings Time does not affect Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
As parents of older children you would generally welcome the arrival of daylight saving, as it allows them to spend a little more time outside in the evening.
However, with younger children there is a downside, as the changing of the times can interfere with their little body clocks and therefore sleeping habits. Adults can quite easily adapt to a new wake up time and bed time - especially if they are already a little sleep deprived - but in young children and babies it can be a little more difficult.
Moving the clocks forward by one hour at the beginning of daylight-saving means that if you want to keep the same sleeping schedules and get baby off to bed at 7.00pm, you may now be putting him to sleep in the day light. This gets a lot of parents worried and can be a little distracting for the baby.
I have never in fact found it to be a problem. In my experience, daylight makes no difference to a baby who has been taught the skills to put himself to sleep. I have also clearly observed that children on a routine adapt faster and more easily to any time change, this applies equally to children that are travelling across time zones and is one of the reasons why I always advise people to establish a good routine a few weeks before a trip.
Making the Daylight-Saving Transition
I find it easier to adjust the times over the two days leading up to the clock changes and this also minimises the effect on a baby or child. But as every baby and child is different the daylight saving guide below should only be used as a reference point and you may need to tailor it to suit your baby's needs and your family dynamic. The following uses the routine for babies aged ten weeks until you introduce solids as an example to help explain this process.
On Friday morning wake your baby as normal at 7am and follow your normal daily routine until 2.40 pm. At this point, if your baby is still sleeping, wake him for what would have been his 3.00pm feed. For the rest of the day, complete the routine twenty minutes earlier than you would otherwise. This should pan out to putting your baby to bed at 6.40pm instead of 7.00pm. This means you will be doing the dreamfeed twenty minutes early as well.
On Saturday get him up at 6.40am to feed and continue the rest of the routine twenty minutes early. Wake him up (if necessary) at 2.20pm in order to have what was his "3.00pm feed". Now you have shifted the routine by 40 minutes over two days.
Once again, follow your normal routine from here but everything will be 40 minutes early, so you will put your baby to bed at 6.20pm instead of 7pm etc. On Sunday when the clocks move forward, wake her up at 7.00am (which was 6.00am before daylight saving began) and follow the normal routine using the official Australian summer times.
Below is an example of making the transition to daylight saving using the 'aged ten weeks until started on solids' routine.