The biannual calendar event of daylight savings affects families across several Australian states; when those without children celebrate the extra hours sleep, but for those of us with little ones, we question the conspiracy of the world to mess with our sleep routines!

In this blog we’ll look at how to help your little one transition during daylight savings and provide tips to help your baby sleep when the clocks turn back 1 hour.

The date to mark in your diary as the end of daylight savings is Sunday, 4 April, 2021 (QLD, WA and NT this won’t affect you) and don’t worry if you forget, your phone will automatically update the time.

For those worried about early rising, I want to reassure you that early rising doesn’t have to become the new ‘norm’ in your household and daylight savings transitions don’t have to impact the family long-term.

There are ways to achieve a smooth transition.

This being said, due to our body’s lower drive to sleep in the morning, early rising is one of the trickier sleep hurdles. Sometimes it simply takes time to restore the sleep pressure and shift the body’s “wake up time” to a more appropriate time (generally between 6:00-7:00am on a ‘standard’ 7:00am-7:00pm schedule.

For most parents, there will not be a ‘bonus sleep in’ come daylight savings, but this clock change doesn’t have to mean the beginning of months on end of early rising.  If anything, we can take this opportunity to finally work on early rising once and for all with an extra hour to persist with re-settling – the goal isn’t necessarily returning to sleep…at least initially.

For now, the best thing you can do to ready yourself for the transition is to have a plan, either proactive or reactive (we’ll talk about this more) and as always, consistency is key to guiding your little one through this time.

How do you help your little one transition during daylight savings?

1. Firstly, we need to understand how our circadian rhythms work.

The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal biological sleep clock and it is set by food, light and social interaction. These external factors are like data being provided to the body, which is sending clear messages to signal when it is awake time and when it is sleep time.

It should also be noted that serotonin (happy hormone) is produced during the day and converts to melatonin (sleepy hormone) at night.

The body clock can be shifted simply by moving, adding or omitting the elements of food, light and social interaction. This is where your little one’s routine comes into play and can be used to transition their circadian rhythm.

Which leads me to the next point

2. Have a plan – There are two common approaches to making the

clock work in your favour. These approaches are called Proactive and Reactive.

Proactive – This is where, in the 5-7 days prior to the time change, you progressively shift your routine by 15-20 minutes; meaning every step in your routine happens just that little bit later.

For example: if you usually run your little one’s day between the hours of 7:00am – 7:00pm, in the week leading up to daylight savings you’ll be aiming to progressively move towards an 8:00am – 8:00pm routine by the end of the week.

By progressively shifting to the 8:00am – 8:00pm routine, by the time the clocks wind back on Sunday morning you’ll have already transitioned your little one’s sleep routine and they’ll now be back on a 7:00am – 7:00pm routine.

Expert Tip: Remember everything is moving to a slightly later time. Always start at the beginning of the day and push out meals and snacks consecutively to achieve the later bedtime.

  Days 1-2 Days 3-4 Days 5-6 Days 7-8
Start of the day 7:15am 7:30am 7:45am 8:00am
All Naps 15 minutes later 30 minutes later 45 minutes later 1 hour later
All Meals 15 minutes later 30 minutes later 45 minutes later 1 hour later
Bedtime 7:15pm 7:30pm 7:45pm 8:00pm

This will then “switch” you back to a 7:00am-7:00pm routine come Sunday morning.  Don’t worry if you start late or only get half way by the Sunday.  It’s a guideline to work towards not a deadline.

Reactive: The alternative to a proactive approach is a reactive approach which is the same method as the proactive approach only it’s implemented after daylight savings ends i.e. after the time change.

If we use the example of having a 7:00am – 7:00pm routine, once the clocks go back this will now be a 6:00am – 6:00pm routine and the idea is to get your little one back to 7:00am – 7:00pm.

How’s it done? Over a few days you’ll move your routine 15-20 minutes later which progressively retrains your little one’s body clock to adjust to a 7:00am – 7:00pm routine on the new time.

As with the proactive approach, always start the process at the beginning of the day and push out meals, snacks and naps consecutively to progressively shuffle to a later time.

  Days 1-2 Days 3-4 Days 5-6 Days 7-8
Start of the day 6:15am 6:30am 6:45am 7:00am
All Naps 15 minutes later 30 minutes later 45 minutes later 1 hour later
All Meals 15 minutes later 30 minutes later 45 minutes later 1 hour later
Bedtime 6:15pm 6:30pm 6:45pm 7:00pm

3. Consistency – When it comes to our little one’s sleep habits

consistency will always be important. The daylight savings clock change is the time to be consistent and is not the time to change your approach with settling and re-settling. During this time be especially cautious to ensure you don’t add any new sleep props that you don’t wish to retain long-term.

Expert Insight: Younger babies (4-12 months old) will be more sensitive to this change whereas with your newborn-3-month-old you can simply follow awake times and add/drop a nap to get them back on track.

Older babies/toddlers you can gently adjust by pushing towards their “regular” day to day nap schedule and bedtime and their bodies will catch up over 5-7 days.

Remember- No matter what happens, the best thing you can do is allow your bub the opportunity to transition and the above suggestions will help to do just this.

Expert Tip: Once the change happens avoid thinking “old time vs new time” and just go with the actual time, pushing forward with where you want to get to as you’ll constantly confuse yourself going back and forth. One hour is not hugely significant, especially for older children and thankfully we are not crossing significant time zones.

Any changes from daylight savings are commonly sorted within 5-7 days.

Early rising can be a kicker but don’t let it stress you out. I encourage you to view this time through the lens of opportunity and a chance to work on minimising early rising in your little one (especially if early rising was already a common occurrence). Having the extra hour to work on re-settling before starting the day is in your favour mumma.

Try to remember that as a parent, it is not our job to “force” sleep, rather offer the opportunity and if they are awake earlier than ideal, we don’t automatically need to get them up and start the day, rather try to keep them in their sleep environment (with as little interaction as possible) to “bore” them back to sleep rather than be too hands on with our approach. 

Expert Tip: Early rising can take 2-3 weeks to resolve, hence the need to be patient and consistent.

Want some extra help?

Check out the early rising blog for extra hints and tips to beat the early wake up calls from your little one.

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With Love,