By Phillippa Wallis, owner of Child Sleep Matters
However much I love the summer, I do love the cooler, darker nights and the thought of snuggling in front of the fire (with the children tucked up warm in their beds!) When it’s darker earlier at night-time and later in the morning, it can help keep your little one’s room nice and dark (one tip for helping them to sleep) but, just as you’ve got into a lovely routine…the clocks change!
It really does have an effect on all of us and it can increase our sleep debt — especially in children who tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. That is usually why people notice it the most in young children.
So, what to do? Look no further – here are some hints to help you deal with the clocks moving back later this month.
1. For the Autumn ‘fall’ back – in the morning after the clocks change, get up with your children at their ‘usual’ time – have a cup of tea or coffee and then get started on putting those clocks back an hour! It’s less painful doing it this way – they are just up the same time as usual after the same amount of sleep as usual. 😊
2. Then, split the difference! If your child still naps at, say 9.30am, then do it at 9am for the first three days (it will feel like 10am to your child). It will be a bit of a push for them but not so much as to throw their schedule out. Do the same for any other naps.
3. For bedtime for the first three days, if your child usually goes to sleep at 7pm, then put them down at 6.30pm (it will feel like 7.30pm to them).
4. If you have a toddler with a clock – you can also set the clock earlier (allowing them to wake at 6.30am rather than 7am for example) until they adjust and are back to their usual waking.
5. If you are dealing with a baby, do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6 a.m. is okay now! So if she normally wakes at 7:00am, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait till 6.10am on the first day, and then 6.20am the next, then 6:30am the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour. 😊
6. On night 4, just go with the time on the clock and split the other half, so they are back to going to bed at 7pm and waking at 7pm and having naps at the same time.
7. Allow a bit of time for them to adjust to this extra hour – children thrive on routine so the clock change can throw that all out - it will take about a week for them to deal with this change.
And remember consistency – keep your routine the same and deal with any wakings in the same way so you don’t encourage any changes caused by the clock change!