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How Does Daylight Savings Time Affect Babies?

By Edited May 30, 2016 1 5

Daylight Savings Time (DST) tends to sometimes get a bit controversial due to the various opinions associated with this practice. Is it useful? Is it an antiquated practice that doesn't make sense in the modern-day?

Debate typically spurns over issues such as energy, politics and economics. In recent years health-related issues have also been brought into the mix. While these discussions are considerations to think about when changing the clocks twice a year, many people are more concerned with the immediate personal impact of how these clock changes affect daily routines, perhaps especially for babies.

In countries that practice DST, for many parents there is often a period of adjustment which includes struggling for a few days after the clock change.

Sleepy baby
Credit: Oleg Sidorenko (oksidor on Flickr)/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

Even just an hour shift can create disruption in baby's sleep schedule.

Sleep Interrupted

Many new parents are sleep deprived as it is, and finding a good balance of sleep for many moms and dads is difficult at best.  Developing sleep routines with infants is often challenging to begin with, and when the time comes to change the clocks by a full hour, while it sounds minor, this can create a big disruption on daily routines and the ability to get some sleep.

To a parent, who has not been getting much rest every night anyway, that measly one hour will probably make a huge difference.

Is it Wise to Change Baby's Sleep Patterns?

Parents may decide to try changes to cope with Daylight Savings Time in order to combat losing even more sleep. For example, they may put baby to bed an hour early or let baby rest longer to make up for lost sleep time.

While in theory this sounds great, in the long run it could do more harm than good say some experts. There are some that recommend another option is not to do anything at all and to simply let nature take its course. 2 These experts feel it its better to maintain established routines and not make adjustments, but rather to stick by the clock. They say staying with strict patterns,  and not giving in by disrupting already established routines to compensate for the time change, can help the transition go more smoothly for children.

And for some, this may be the right way to go, but for others, not doing anything may not work - especially parents with other school-aged children.

Strategies to Cope With Sleep During Daylight Savings Time Changes

One tactic that could lessen the impact of changing the clock is to prepare in advance. If an infant's bedtime is 7:30 p.m., try putting him or her to bed either 10 to 15 minutes earlier or later (depending on the season) a week or two before. Every day or two shift the sleep schedule another 10 to 15 minutes. This way when the clocks actually do change, baby will have already, in a sense, compensated for the hour change. Baby may not go to sleep right away with even just a slightly earlier time, but using this approach, the right "bedtime" messages are being sent; he or she will probably adjust within a few days.

A child's internal clock can often be pretty rigid, however with continuing the regular routine without interruption, this can help smooth out the bumps associated with time change.  Routines should include the designated time, but also other events that are usually linked to bedtime. Activities such as a bath, cuddling, story, or whatever other routines are associated with bedtime, should be maintained during a time shift. This way, even though the clocks have changed, a baby's expectancies will not. Even the youngest children associate certain events with going to sleep.

With good planning, Daylight Savings Time does not have to necessarily have a long-term negative impact an infant's, or parents' sleep schedules. While there may be a temporary hiccup in sleep patterns for a few days or weeks, before long things can quickly get back to normal.

“It can be kind of like the baby has jet lag,” says Angelique Millette, a family sleep consultant in San Francisco, reports The Bump. “They may be harder to put down at bedtime, or awake when they’re not supposed to be. When toddlers or older kids get off-schedule or their routines change, they may exhibit ‘testing’ behaviors.” 1

Millette also recommends adding room-darkening curtains to baby's room. Darkening the room can give the illusion of "night-time" even when the sun is shining.

[Related reading: How to Make Your Bedroom Ideal for Sleep ]

There are many pros and cons associated with having a biannual time change, however for infants, who could care less what a time-telling gadget says, they run on their own internal clocks, the effects can be significant. Babies can feel "out of sorts", leading to crying, which of course, has a ripple effect on his or her parents.

Minimizing the impact of Daylight Savings Time on infants by making some small changes won't necessarily eliminate the issue, but can at least reduce some of the effects of time change.

Should Daylight Savings Time be Dumped?

Daylight Savings Time is said to date back to ancient times, however it was not really used until the past 100 years.  In Europe the clock change was first implemented in 1916 in Germany to save fuel during WWI. Britain, the United States and other countries soon followed this concept and have stuck with it (although Benjamin Franklin is said to have proposed it back in the 18th century). Originally, the idea was launched to add more daylight hours to take advantage of natural light conditions and save energy. However, these days people often wonder if this time change is really necessary anymore? 3

If it was to end, and time either was left at DST or Standard, many parents would probably be thankful for its demise.

[Related Reading: 5 Ways to Ruin Your Sleep ]

Sunrise in New Jersey
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Would you like to see Daylight Savings Time or Standard Time left (one or the other) year-round or do you prefer the shifting of the hour twice a year?



Mar 14, 2015 10:42am
Oh I definitely found my daughter and I were affected by the time change. We're extra groggy in the morning but can stay up late (too late) at night.

I'd like it if the time were adjusted ahead by one hour, once a year. Perhaps I wouldn't be perpetually late.
Mar 16, 2015 5:34am
LOL @ being late :).
I used to be very much a night owl and was more affected by the time change then, but these days it does not affect me as much since I'm now an "early bird".

It does throw off the kids, that's for sure. I wish they'd just choose one or the other. Thanks so much for commenting!
Mar 14, 2015 5:00pm
I like it when the clocks are set ahead an hour. It gives me more daylight time after work. Nothing worse than going to work in the dark and coming home the same way.
Mar 14, 2015 5:01pm
I like it when the clocks are set ahead an hour. It gives me more daylight time after work. Nothing worse than going to work in the dark and coming home the same way.
Mar 16, 2015 5:37am
I think many people agree with you (I kind of wish they'd stick with one or the other though). I was in the northern part of the Midwest U.S. last year and was amazed at how late the sun was out during that time of year. I had to admit, that was kind of nice during a June getaway.

Thank you Frank for commenting. Welcome to InfoBarrel!
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  1. "How To Help Baby With The Time Change ." The Bump. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  2. Emily DeJeu "Daylight Savings and Baby/Toddler Sleep – 2 Tips To Help Your Child Adjust To The Time Change." Baby Sleep Site. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  3. Benjamin Dery, KING 5 and NWCN Meteorologist "Daylight Saving Time: Should it stay or should it go?." King 5. 26/02/2015. 27/02/2015 <Web >
  4. "History of Daylight Saving Time - DST." Time and Date. 27/02/2015 <Web >

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