The Anxious Parents Guide to Surviving Daylight Saving Time

The Anxious Parents Guide to Surviving Daylight Saving Time

Want to get ahead of the “Spring Forward” time change?  Dr. Natalie Barrett weighs in on the steps you can take to get your baby’s schedule sorted in advance.

We get it. When it comes to parenting, you enjoy having a plan, because some semblance of control helps you sleep better at night, even though you know deep down that parenting is the biggest “what if” journey you can possibly embark on. 

You’re a highly prepared parent.

So when we push the clocks forward an hour on March 10, you’re going to want to get ahead of the game to ensure that your baby is comfortable with the time change. You’re not alone, at least according to Dr. Natalie Barnett, pediatric sleep expert and Vice President of Clinical Research at Nanit.

“These are the kind of parents who might be more worried about this transition,” says Natalie. “For them, they may want to start preparing several days in advance.” 

If you’re the kind of parent who wants to head into Daylight Saving with a plan, Natalie advises to think about starting the adjustment with naps - whether your child has a one, two or three nap schedule. She recommends starting the adjustments on the Wednesday before the time change. 

“If you start Wednesday, you move everything 15 minutes earlier per day,” says Natalie.  “You move each nap a little earlier and then move bedtime earlier in 15 minute increments. So Wednesday is 15 minutes, then Thursday is 30 minutes then Friday 45 minutes, then one hour on Saturday. So by the time they wake up on Sunday, they’re on a totally new schedule that aligns with the new time.”

The Anxious Parents Guide to Surviving Daylight Saving Time

According to Natalie and her teams’ research, many babies need at least one week to get back to their usual sleep time, so it’s totally normal for them to take time to figure it out. “We also know that parents are anxious about the change,” says Natalie. “Our research shows that, interestingly, however anxious you are, it doesn't seem to affect how your baby sleeps.”

Fortunately, unlike the brutal Fall Back, the Spring Forward time change means that most babies will be sleeping in. Sure, they’re going to bed later but they’re also sleeping later in the morning, which can be helpful for those families used to enjoying their first cup of coffee at dawn.

“Moving into spring, everything just feels better,” says Natalie. “It means longer days, it’s nicer outside. You can go to the park. Wonderful things are on the horizon.” 

But with the days getting longer, make sure you’ve got garbage bags or blackout shades on windows and you’ve got the Nanit Sound + Light humming with white noise. When nights are longer during the winter, the sun is less of an issue, but as we move into spring and summer, it’s important to make the room as dark as possible in order to lengthen sleeping hours. A dark room also makes it that much easier for babies to get back to sleep when they wake up. “We don’t want a 5am wake up time,” says Natalie. “We want to give these babies the opportunity to get back to sleep and we want to make it easy for them to do so. We don’t want it to be hard. Having a consistent room environment throughout the night is going to make it easier for your baby to fall back to sleep when they wake in the early hours”

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    Also, to help your baby adjust, remember to take walks in the morning. By getting outside in the early morning sunlight hours, you can help reset your baby's Circadian Rhythm. 

    Now, if you’re the opposite kind of parent who didn’t realize you sprung forward until you checked the time on your microwave the next day, you’re not alone. Many of us don’t realize how significant this time change can be. 

    But even if you’re on the laissez faire side of things, it’s worth remembering that a full hour time change is a big adjustment for babies, and you want to give them time. “Let’s just remember to make sure we’re getting outside in the sun in the morning and making sure their sleeping environment is set up for success with white noise, dark curtains and a full size crib,” says Natalie. “We want to maintain consistency as much as we can so we can go into the time change easily.”

    Remember to recognize your baby’s sleep cues and let them take the lead for a few days. Your baby will gradually get used to the new time, even if they want to go to bed later in the beginning or aren’t ready for a nap at the designated time. In the next few days, they will sort themselves out and adjust. In the meantime, try not to stress it - until next Fall anyway.

    Nanit is dedicated to delivering high-quality, reliable content for our readers. Our Parent Confidently articles are crafted by experienced parenting contributors and are firmly rooted in data and research. To ensure the accuracy and relevance of the content, all articles undergo a rigorous review process by our team of parenting experts. Additionally, our wellness-related content receives further scrutiny from Nanit Lab, our think tank of scientists, engineers, physicians, academic experts, and thought leaders.

    Our primary objective is to furnish readers with the most current, trustworthy, and actionable information concerning a host of parenting topics. We strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions by offering comprehensive and respected insights.

    In pursuit of transparency and credibility, our articles incorporate credible third-party sources, peer-reviewed studies, and abstracts. These sources are directly linked within the text or provided at the bottom of the articles to grant readers easy access to the source material.


    Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

    Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

    Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

    Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.