|Posted on 13 March, 2017 at 14:30|
At the end of the month, Sunday March 26th the clocks ‘spring forward’ an hour in keeping with British Summer Time. Adjusting to new times and losing an hour’s sleep can be disruptive for babies and young children’s sleep and may threaten your well planned daily and routines. With a little forward planning though, the adjustment to BST can be made easier for all!
Sleep experts suggest making changes to children’s waking/sleep times gradually in small steps, so start making changes 5-6 days before the clocks ‘spring forward’. The aim is to move your child’s day 15 minutes earlier every second day. To start then, if bedtime is normally 7.30pm and your child wakes at 7am, wake your child at 6.45am, so bedtime becomes 7.15pm. Do this for 2 days and move the day’s routines 15 minutes earlier as well. Then move the day forward another 15 minutes for 2 days, and repeat until you are putting your child to bed an hour earlier, to coincide with the clocks ‘springing forward’ an hour on Sunday morning.
Practical Tips for Success.
Although there maybe some timings you can’t adjust, like baby groups, nursery or playgroup times, try to keep your daily routine as consistent as possible during your ‘adjustment week’. The timing of mealtimes for example helps set children’s internal biological clock and sleep/wake cycles, so move your child’s mealtimes 15 minutes earlier too in relation to waking time and planned bedtime.
Adjust naps according to wake-up time during the adjustment week. Try to avoid longer than usual naps - unless your child is unwell or there is another reason for an increased sleep requirement.
Start the bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier too and keep it consistent and predictable. The rituals you include within your routine help create feelings of security and emotional wellbeing for children by providing a predictable, loving wind-down to sleep.
Keep the bedroom dimly lit during the bedtime routine and throughout the night, work with light and dark to support your goals.
Outdoor play will promote sleep and reduce sleep latency, that is, help your child to get to sleep quicker – remember, using light and dark cues will support you big time!
If a slow, gradual approach doesn’t work for your family due to activity commitments, try working with 1 big jump to the new time for older babies, toddlers and young children. Wake your child at the usual adjusted time, and start working with the new timings Sunday.
Remember, it may take your child a few days to adjust, especially if you take the 1 big jump approach. Think of the adjustment as similar to jetlag, which is temporary, but actually does settle over a few days.