We all know that the clocks change twice a year for daylight savings. But, it is easy to get caught out by the change even though we know it's coming.
It seems to sneak up awfully quickly! And, it
can wreak havoc with the sleeping patterns of your little ones.
Very young babies aren't usually
affected. But the sudden, odd change
can affect older babies and toddlers. As the clocks go back in autumn, this can
result in some frustrating early wake-ups, which is no good for your child and
no fun for you either!
With any change to your child's
routine, it is usually much better if you can do it gradually. Getting ready
for the clocks changing is no different.
So, let’s look at the best way to manage the end of daylight savings as it is not far away.
Adjusting Your Baby’s Bedtime
In order to help your little one’s body clock
adjust to daylight savings changes, it can be helpful to start adjusting their
bedtimes now. To adjust your child's bedtime, it is
best to put them to bed a little later each night in the few days before
the clocks change.
This may sound counterintuitive at
first. But if you work up to
bedtime being an hour later, you will be set up for the one hour difference
when the clocks change.
I suggest that you start on the Monday before the clocks change and keep each new time for two days. Make bedtime 15 minutes later each time. This way, the change is small enough that it will not significantly affect your child's sleep but enough to put you on the right track. If you forget until later in the week, you can start on Thursday and just spend one day on each new time. This schedule should make moving bedtime manageable.
Remember if your child is still
young enough to need naps during the day, adjust these to suit the new routine
too, as well as adjusting feeding or meal times. This handy timing
chart has a suggested schedule for you:
While a bit of preparation will
hopefully make the transition to the time change more manageable, you might
still find that your child is getting up a bit earlier than you would like in
If that's happening, here are some things to check:
Is there too much light?
With the clocks going back, it will be lighter in the mornings. Too much light coming into your child's room may disrupt their sleep and make them think it is time to wake up. Invest in a good set of blackout curtains, or have a look at our Sleep Sundays blackout blinds to help block out the light.
Is it too chilly?
With autumn upon us, the temperature will start dropping. Most homes are coldest in the early morning, so your child may be getting chilly which causes them to wake. Make sure your little one is cosy enough with long sleeve and legged pyjamas or an extra blanket. A sleep sack is a good alternative if they are still babies.
Is your child waking for comfort or out of habit?
Sometimes children wake just out
of habit. It may be that they wake, and then you feed them to get them back to
sleep. Or perhaps they get lots of attention through cuddles, songs, stories or bringing them into bed with you.
You might think you are doing the
right thing to settle them, but these actions could be reinforcing the habit of
Are they sleeping too much during
If your child wakes early, they
may end up having a long morning nap to compensate. But this can actually be counterproductive.
Too much sleep during the day can
also mean that your child isn't sleepy enough at bedtime. If you have a
toddler, they may be ready to drop day sleeps. So, it can be
helpful to either try skipping them or at least restricting the time asleep.
Are they overtired?
It sounds odd, but sometimes being
too tired actually causes your child to wake up early. This is because when
they are tired, they don't get as much deep sleep. Cortisol (the stress
hormone) is produced by the body, which stops the production of melatonin, the
hormone that helps sleep.
As melatonin levels drop in the
morning, your child is likely to wake. If your child seems extra tired, then
try an earlier bedtime.
Do You Need Help With Adjusting Your Sleep Routines?
For some little ones, adjusting to
daylight savings changes can be hard. Some
babies and toddlers do have trouble getting into good sleep routines.
If you would like help or support
with your child's sleeping, please reach out. I've worked with hundreds of
families, helping them gently get their children into a great sleep routine
that works for the whole family.