It is coming to that time of year where the clocks go back and we look forward to that extra hour in bed, however with babies and young children it is not always a simple transition! Below I wanted to outline some tips that will hopefully, with a little bit of preparation, make this transition as smooth as possible.
Two things to bear in mind when working out how to prepare for the clock changes are firstly that making the transition gradual for babies and younger children can really help (very young babies are often much less affected as they are really just sleeping and feeding most of the time anyway, as are older children who can usually make the transition more easily too). The second thing to take into consideration is that one of the key factors in changing the body clock to be ready for sleep and to wake up at a certain time is LIGHT! So using light to help your child adjust can be the key.
Tips to prepare for the clocks going back:
Up to a week before you can start preparing your child by keeping the lights down low later in the morning, and for children still having a milk feed in the morning by slowly pushing the feed a bit later. So even if your child is wide awake and chattering, and eventually needing their feed, try to keep the lights down low for up to an hour longer than usual. You may find that this needs to be gradual, and may depend on other factors also (if you have to leave the house by a certain time for example). You may find after a few days that your child naturally sleeps a little bit later having kept the lights dim for this extra time in the morning, or this may not happen until the bedtime has also adjusted).
A few days before the clocks go back start keeping your little one up a bit longer, pushing your child’s bedtime routine a little later. For babies you may need to do this more gradually than toddlers, so for example a baby you may start their bedtime routine 10 minutes later over 5 days but a 4 year old you may find that you can just do 20 minutes a day for 3 days, or anything in between! Again make sure you are using light to help with this transition, so plenty of bright light during this extra awake time; this can be tricky as the evenings are getting darker!
Remember if your child struggles with the change consistency is key, and with a consistent approach and with the help of LIGHT then your child should soon adjust. One final point is that some parents find they can use the clock change to help reset a child’s schedule, so if a baby is naturally going to bed later and waking later but the parents prefer an earlier bedtime then you can simply not do any of the above and baby will just naturally continue going to bed and waking as before, which by the clock will be an hour earlier!
About Caroline Evans
She is a parenting consultant with more than 20 years experience of working with babies and children as an international nanny and maternity nurse. Alongside her childcare training Caroline is trained in breastfeeding support with a special interest in tongue tie and also has additional professional training in infant/child sleep, reflux and early allergy and post natal depression. She runs a small consultancy business that offers advice and bespoke support to new parents, helping them learn to listen to and communicate with their children in order to solve any issues they may be facing.
Caroline is also the Author of the Newborn Daily Baby Journal which parents can use to track the day to day activity of their child (feeds, sleeps etc).
You can get in touch with Caroline at firstname.lastname@example.org