Smooth Sailing Through Daylight Savings Time Changes: Baby Sleep Tips Unveiled

Changing our clocks for Daylight Saving Time can throw off even the best of us, let alone our youngest family members who thrive on routine and consistency. For new parents already navigating the choppy waters of sleep deprivation, the time change can feel like a difficult challenge.

Changing your baby’s sleep routine may sound daunting but following are some practical tips for helping your baby adjust to the time change, ensuring everyone gets a good night’s rest.

What Are The Time Changes?

On April 7, 2024, Daylight Saving Time ends and we will turn back our clocks by one hour at 3:00AM. This means we will see more light in the early mornings and less light in the evenings.

Please see below for guidance on the changes to our clocks: 

Clocks will be turned back one hour in: 

  • Australian Capital Territory
  • New South Wales
  • South Australia
  • Victoria
  • Tasmania

No Changes: 

  • Queensland
  • Northern Territory
  • Western Australia.

How Does Time Change Affect Babies?

Daylight Saving Time can disrupt the sleep patterns of a baby, primarily due to the abrupt shift in the timing of light and darkness, which acts as a primary cue for our sleep-wake cycle. When the clocks are set back in the Autumn, it suddenly becomes darker earlier in the evening and lighter earlier in the morning. This shift can confuse a baby’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, which relies on consistent light signals to regulate sleep. Consequently, babies may struggle to fall asleep at their usual bedtime and  wake up earlier. This disruption can lead to shorter sleep durations and decreased sleep quality, impacting both the baby’s and the parents’ overall well-being.

Gradually Adjust Sleep Schedule

One of the most effective ways to help your baby adapt to the time change is by gradually adjusting their sleep schedule. This means shifting their bedtime, wake-up time, and nap times by small increments—about 10 minutes each day—leading up to the time change.

This gradual approach helps align your baby’s internal clock with the new time in a less abrupt manner, making the transition smoother for your baby (and you). Starting this adjustment a week before the time change can significantly ease the process.

Using the guide below, by the time you get to Sunday, your little one will have adjusted to the new time schedule. Just remember, change can be challenging for your baby, so being patient and having consistency is important.

For example:
DayTime
Monday7:10 AM
Tuesday7:20 AM
Wednesday7:30 AM
Thursday7:40 AM
Friday7:50 AM
Saturday8:00 AM
Sunday7:00 AM

( daylight savings back to 7am)

Utilise Natural Light

Our internal body clocks, or circadian rhythms, are largely influenced by light exposure. For babies, exposure to natural light during the morning hours can help regulate their internal clocks and signal that it’s time to wake up.

Conversely, dimming the lights and reducing exposure to bright screens in the evening can help signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Leveraging natural light and darkness can effectively help your baby adjust their sleep cycle to the new time.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

A consistent bedtime routine is paramount for signalling to your baby that it’s time to sleep. Establishing a calming sequence of activities, such as taking a warm bath, reading a soothing book, or gentle rocking, can help in preparing your baby for bedtime.

This routine not only provides cues that bedtime is nearing but also helps in calming your baby, making it easier for them to fall asleep. The key is consistency; performing the same activities in the same order every night can reinforce your baby’s sleep schedule and make the time change transition smoother.

Be Patient

Adjusting to the time change is a process, and it might take several days for your baby to fully adapt to the new schedule. It’s important for parents to be patient and provide ample support during this transition.

Maintaining consistency in your baby’s sleep routine and being responsive to their needs can help minimise the impact of the time change. Remember, it’s normal for there to be a few rough nights, but with time and consistency, your baby will adjust.

Consider Your Approach

When it comes to navigating the time change with your baby, there are generally two approaches you can take:

  • Option 1 – No Changes: Some parents prefer to let their baby adjust naturally to the time change, similar to how adults do. This hands-off approach involves maintaining your baby’s regular schedule and trusting that their internal clock will eventually align with the new time. This method requires patience and may result in a few days of irregular sleep patterns.
  • Option 2 – Implement Strategies: Alternatively, you can proactively use the strategies outlined above to help your baby adjust. This approach is particularly useful for babies and toddlers who are highly sensitive to changes in their sleep routine. By adjusting their schedule gradually, utilising natural light and establishing a consistent bedtime routine, you can help minimise sleep disruptions and ensure a smoother transition.

Regardless of the approach you choose, remember that the goal is to support your baby through the time change in a way that works best for your family. Whether you opt for a gradual adjustment or trust in a natural adaptation, the key is to be patient, consistent, and responsive to your baby’s needs.

Final Thoughts

With time and the right strategies, the transition to end of Daylight Saving Time can be a smooth process for both you and your baby, ultimately leading to restful nights and happier days ahead.

Over my 30 year tenure as a baby sleep consultant I have proudly supported over 10,000 families empowering healthy baby sleep habits and reading baby sleep cues to set up a positive baby sleep environment.

For more information please call Carmel on 0407454518  or email 

carmel@calmbabies.com.au