Adjusting Baby Sleep for Daylight Savings

/ Updated Mar 24, 2021
Toddler walking through the forest during Autumn

Parents, don’t stay up. One third of kids won’t sleep in any later.

Autumn is a delightful time of year. The air turns crisp, leaves change color, and it's time to cozy up in your woolen layers. We're also treated to an extra hour of sleep with the Fall Daylight Saving Time change. Unless you have a young child. Every year we hear people mention that their toddler did some twilight zone math and instead of sleeping in an extra hour, woke up 2 hours earlier. It only makes it worse to have had the expectation of more shuteye, and then get robbed of it.

Fall back dst sleep tips for parents

Given our focus at Huckleberry on improving children’s sleep, we wondered whether there is more to this. How does Daylight Saving really affect children? Is there actually a warped effect on them, and if so, how can we prevent it? We looked at a data set of about 2000 children from across the US and Canada. This data set was pulled from our company’s user base (we have a tracking app and pair pediatric sleep experts with AI to create custom sleep plans for children). We then examined how children were affected by last year’s time change.

44% of parents corrected for the Daylight Saving Time Change (DST) by putting their children to sleep 30 minutes or later than usual the night before. That’s pretty good. However, 34% of children end up waking 30 minutes or more earlier than usual on the morning after DST. For example, if a child usually woke up 7am before the time change, they ended up waking at 6:30am or earlier, even with parental adjustment. This was more pronounced for toddlers and preschoolers than for babies (40% vs. 32%). Furthermore, 18% woke an extra hour or more earlier. So while the majority will wake up either close to their usual time or even sleep in, there’s still a solid one-third of families who should not expect any extra slumber. The takeaway is to still take steps to adjust for daylight saving (see below), but don’t be disappointed if you miss out on the extra hour of sleep because you’re in good company.

There is hope. Here are two strategies to manage the Autumn time change and minimize disruptions to your child’s sleep.

The Gradual Method of schedule shifting in preparation of Fall back daylight saving time by Huckleberry.
The faster method of schedule shifting in preparation of Fall back daylight saving time by Huckleberry.

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