You’ve got a consistent bedtime routine in place, naps are working well, sleep is flowing nicely… then along comes the daylight saving time change which potentially threatens all your hard work and upsets your well planned routines!
At the end of October British Summer Time ends and the clocks ‘fall back’ an hour in keeping with Daylight Saving. Time changes like these can be disruptive for babies and young children because they affect their biological clocks and circadian rhythms, so adjusting to new sleep times can be a bit of a struggle. With a little forward planning though, the adjustment to daylight saving time changes can be made easier for all!
There are 2 options when considering the daylight saving time changes, first is to make a big step to the new timing on the day, the other is to make changes more gradually.
For older children it’s often easier to make change on the day – starting with wake up time, and following through to their usual bedtime according to the new time. Gradual approaches are trickier for older children as they usually have more social activities in the diary which can’t be moved or tweaked.
For babies and younger children I suggest making changes to waking and sleep times in small steps, so start making gradual changes during the week before the clocks ‘fall back’ an hour. The aim is to move your baby or child’s daily routines 15 minutes later every couple of days. If your child’s bedtime is normally 7.30pm and wake-up around 7am, the first step will be to move bedtime later by 15 minutes to 7.45pm so wake-up becomes a little later too, and naps will also become 15 minutes later.
After 2 or 3 days move the routines another 15 minutes later and repeat until you are putting your child to bed at 8.30pm, which then becomes his normal bedtime of 7.30pm when the clocks go back an hour.
Practical Tips for Success
Although there will be some timings you can’t adjust, like nursery or playgroup times, aim to shift all your daily routines 15 minutes later at each step during the ‘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 later too in relation to sleep times and your planned bedtime.
Adjust nap times by 15 minute increments as well. Try to avoid longer than usual naps – unless your child is unwell or there is another reason for an increased sleep requirement.
Consistent and predictable routines are very important – Start the bedtime routine 15 minutes later and keep it stable. The steps and rituals you include within your routine help create feelings of security and emotional well-being for babies and children by providing a predictable, loving wind-down to sleep, and it’s your routine steps that will help your child predict sleep and make sleep easier.
If your child enjoys favourite television programmes as part of the after tea routine, consider recording some programmes in advance so you can continue to include them in routines during your adjustment week.
Finally, lots of outdoor play and fresh air will help promote sleep and help your child to get to sleep quicker!
Ann Caird © 2015
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to inform and not for medical diagnoses or treatment. Please contact a health care professional if you have concerns about your child’s health.
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