Every year around this time parents start to worry about the clock change as it can be especially tricky if your little one is already a pretty early riser! So what is the best way to handle it? This will all depend upon the age of your little one. Bear in mind that every little one is different so if your little one struggles with the advice below, allow them a little longer to get on track with the changes.
If your little one’s bedtime is not predictable, which is totally normal for those aged 0 to 3 months, simply pop your little one to sleep a little ‘earlier’ on Sunday night when they seem to be getting tired. It may take your little one a little longer to fall asleep which is expected as they might not be as tired to start with.
On a morning, try not to rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want body clocks to stay on the ‘old time; but rather adjust to the ‘new time’. We don’t want to suggest that getting up at 6 a.m.(or even 5am) is okay now. If s/he normally wakes at 7:00, but is now up at 6:00, especially if s/he is happy, wait 10 minutes before going to him/her on the first day, twenty the next and by the next day it will be 6:30. By the end of the week your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and s/he should be waking up at their usual hour.
During the day you will need to adjust naps too. Change your little one’s awake time by 10-15 minutes on day 1, 20-30 minutes on day 2 until around day 4-5 they should be pretty much back on track. This would mean that if your little one usually wakes at 7am, their ‘new’ wake up time will be 6am. You would then keep them up 15 minutes longer than you would usually, but this will be around 45 minutes ‘earlier’ on the new time.
At bedtime, you will, again, be putting them down 15 minutes later (‘new time) and you can then get in line with the new time on the 4-5th night so your baby is back to going to bed when it would be their usual bedtime.
Toddlers and older children
With little ones of this age my advice is to “split the difference.”
If your little one usually goes to bed around 7pm, put them to bed around 6.30pm for the first three days. This will feel like 7.30pm to your child but should avoid too many overtired tantrums at bedtime. After those three days, move bedtime to the ‘usual’ time of 7pm. It will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.
This will work for naps too. If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30, adjust this to 9:00 for the three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your little one, but not so much that it will cause much damage to his or her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap
If you have children over the age of two, try a ‘gro clock’ and set the sunrise time to half an hour earlier, for those first three days (just remember to set it back to normal again afterwards). If you prefer, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes (which often confuses toddlers). Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time.
For all little ones
The darkness at night will help melatonin be produced which can be great for little ones who struggle to sleep a little. Make sure your little ones get plenty of outside time and daylight during the day, especially in the winter moths, as this will really help regulate their circadian rhythms!
Give it time and know that your little one will get back on schedule within a week or two.
As always, if you’re experiencing any problems with your little ones sleep, please do get in touch for a free 15 minute chat – We would love to help!