Daylight savings time is that time of year that some parents of young children dread. This Sunday, we switch to winter time. And we have to move back watches and alarms by an hour. This technical time setting can be quite a headache for parents who follow a nap routine with their young children. Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny, Britain’s leading baby sleep expert, gives you some tips here to help you get through this ordeal:
Babies and young children
Young babies and particularly alert children may benefit from a gradual adjustment to bedtime as the daylight saving time approaches. If you can, put them to bed 30 minutes later than usual three nights before the fateful date, then 45 minutes two nights before and an hour later on the last night. This means that your child will already get used to the new routine!
Children 5 and over
For kids over the age of five, or really easygoing toddlers, I recommend switching to the new time immediately. Try to keep your little one awake for an extra hour the night before the time change (for one night only). This is only suitable if your child is inclined to sleep a regular number of hours during the night and the following night does not cause an additional early awakening, as it would with more aroused personalities!
Avoid bedtime panic attacks
Don’t try to exhaust your child, as this can be counterproductive. Fatigue is the main cause of sleep disturbances in children. As tempting as it may be to run them out before the time changes, don’t! Act in moderation. A consistent bedtime is between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., a good routine will help eliminate battles around bedtime, late-night awakenings, or early risings.
Try to get your child to get plenty of fresh air first thing in the morning to help regulate their melatonin level and boost their sleep hormones.
Don’t panic if things are a little tricky at the start; sometimes it takes a week for some of us to adjust to time changes. Just being consistent with the new Sunday time, and structuring meals, naps, and bedtime around the new time to help the body adjust to the clock and pace. Make sure that your bedtime signals are adapted to the new time, such as bath time and story time, which will prepare your child for sleep. He will get used to it after a while.