Daylight Savings Time and Infant Sleep

Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC

MARCH 12, 2020

Mother Holding Sleeping Infant

For many parents a common question/concern is how daylight savings time will impact their baby's sleep? If only we could know the answer to how to predict the sleep of a newborn…or more specifically, your newborn. For parents who are not so lucky and have a little one who doesn't sleep well, the time change is often viewed in hopeful anticipation... that this will be the change they've been waiting for, and their little one will at last become the sleeper they've dreamed of.

For parents who've lucked out in the sleep department, daylight savings does not bring hope, but instead fear that the change will shift the delicate balance that has resulted in their little one being a "good sleeper." They've heard the stories from the other side, and they do not want to go there.

In the almost 15 years I've been leading new moms groups, it's been my experience that the impact of the time change on baby's sleep is incredibly variable. It may be that for a couple of days, baby may be ready to go to sleep a little later than the clock may indicate, but that doesn't automatically mean that baby's sleep patterns will be completely disrupted, or if there are any disruptions that they last for any length of time. As you may already have realized, nothing lasts for very long in the newborn period, the good or the bad.

Parents will sometimes try to keep baby awake and stimulated ignoring early sleep cues, with the idea that keeping baby awake till their normal sleep time, via the clock, will help maintain the delicate sleep balance. More often than not, I have heard moms report that this seeming logical approach backfires resulting in a cranky and overtired baby, now fighting going to sleep.

My best advice is to watch your baby, and not be so concerned about the clock. Follow your normal nighttime routine. Typically within a few days, if there have been any changes, baby will have shifted back to clock time matching his previous pattern (if there was one), very much like we all do. It's my personal opinion that during the newborn period there are often so many things going on that impact sleep — whether it's normal variable newborn sleep or growth/developmental milestones — that it's hard to pinpoint daylight savings time as the single factor impacting sleep.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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