How to help your baby or child adjust to the clocks changing

As British Summer Time comes to an end this weekend, non-parents will be looking forward to an extra hour in bed on Sunday morning. But anyone with young children will know, that rarely happens when you have a little one still set in their summertime body clock.

If you’re child is already up at the crack of dawn, the thought of the clocks changing back an hour may fill you with fear. But with these top tips, you can help prepare your little one in the week ahead.

Relaxed Routine

If you and your child are on a relaxed routine, the time adjustment will happen naturally over the course of the week after the clocks go back. Our body clocks are heavily influenced by light so just by being exposed to the new daylight hours, your body will slowly shift to the new time.

Structured Routine

Babies and children on a structured routine need a little more help adjusting as they are more sensitive to time changes. Start preparing a few days beforehand by extending your child’s routine 15 minutes later each day.

Change their Whole Schedule

Don’t forget it’s not just bedtime that needs to change. Adjusting your child’s body clock to the new schedule needs to include meals, activities, naps, and bedtime. Keep their room as dark as possible in the mornings to get as much sleep as possible beforehand – you don’t want them waking early this week!

Avoid Unwanted Habits

Make sure you don’t introduce unwanted habits if your child wakes early, such as bringing them downstairs to watch tv or into your bed. Offering milk to get them to go back to sleep can also create unwanted hunger issues early in the morning. Keep them as calm as possible in a darkened room until the new morning time, and use visual aids such as a lamp on a timer or toddler clock to help illustrate the change in a simple way.

A rested child adjusts more easily

Make sure your child is well rested and, if applicable, has good naps in the run up to the clocks going back so that they can cope with the changes. Thanks to those lovely hormones, an over-tired child will only be made worse by being kept up later, even in small time increments, as the likelihood is they will wake even earlier!

Stick with the Bedtime Routine

Stick with your current bedtime routine to maintain their expectations of sleep during the transition. Sticking to your usual bedtime boundaries (or creating some if you have none!), will help them be ready for sleep and more importantly, stay asleep. A good wind down before bed is never a bad idea for a baby or child of any age.

Daylight in the Afternoon

Help your child stay awake a little longer each day by getting lots of exposure to daylight late in the afternoon. This will help keep melatonin, the sleep hormone, at bay for a little longer. Lots of fresh air and activity will also help them to stay asleep for as long as possible.

The Positive takeaway…

For many early risers, it’s the combination of light and activity of the early mornings (birds!) in the summer that trigger them to wake…so enjoy the darker mornings keeping your little one in bed this winter!

If you find yourself in a muddle and need one to one support, you can take a look our packages or get in touch for further help.