During the time changes that happen twice a year – children’s sleeping patterns often get thrown off – here are some tips to help with the springtime changes when the clocks go forward by one hour. This article is written based on a baby or child who goes to bed at 7pm and wakes at 7am.
APPROACH 1) – Cold turkey
- On the evening of the time change – put your baby/child to bed at the normal time (7pm) and before you go to bed move all of your clocks forward by one hour.
- Set your alarm clock or your child’s alarm clock if they use one to their normal wake up time (7am for example). Initially their body will think that it is 6am so they may be a little slow to start and a little groggy as they have missed out on one hours worth of sleep. It can sometimes take a day or two – but then they will be fine. If you didn’t wake up your child at the normal time then they would probably sleep in until 8am.
- Stay on the new time all day – don’t make adjustments for the time change or try and compensate for the lost hour – keep all naps according to the new time and at the regular normal time.
- Keep all meals/feeds on the new time and at the regular normal time.
- Put your child to bed at their normal bedtime on the Sunday evening (7pm) even though it may feel like 6pm to them, expect them to take a little longer to fall asleep on the first night but once again don’t try to compensate – keep everything on the new time.
APROACH 2) – Gradual
- You can do a gradual approach 2 ways –
1) On the Saturday night that the clocks are going to change – put your child to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal bedtime (6.30pm) and then 30 minutes earlier the next night (6.30pm new time)
2) On the Thursday night on the build up to the time change make small changes of 15 minutes earlier each night. (6.45pm/6.30pm/6.15pm/6.00pm) – then the 6pm will be 7pm once the clocks have gone forward.
Along with the time changes come longer lighter days and shorter nights – or so it appears. You may be tempted to put your baby or child to bed later as it feels unnatural to put them to bed so early when it is so light out. Don’t give into this temptation, keep your normal bedtime as young children still need the same amount of sleep and if you get into the habit of moving bedtime later they will become overtired – if light in a child’s room is an issue – then invest in some black out blinds to help block out the extra light.