Adjusting your child for the Autumn Clock Change

Before children, you probably never gave daylight saving time a second thought but now you’re a parent, there’s nothing you hate more (well, except for maybe when your child stiffens their whole body when you’re trying to get them in their car seat!). To help your children adjust to the clock change we have some simple tips for you!

When the clocks change, it can negatively impact your child’ mood and routine. Children who were able to fall asleep quickly at 7 pm may now find themselves becoming restless or waking much earlier. With the clocks due to go back on Sunday 29th October at 1am, make sure that you are prepared.

Lets talk you some tips and tricks to help your little one adjust to this time change so that you can maintain their routine (and keep your sanity!).

 

Slowly adjust bedtime.
About a week before the clock change, start adjusting your little one’s sleep routine by putting them to bed ten minutes later each night. For example, if your child’s sleep time is 7 pm, adjust this to 7.10 pm on the first night, 7.20 pm on the second night, 7.30 pm on the third night and so on. Pushing their bedtime routine by 10 minutes every night helps kids adjust to their new schedule and by the time the clocks go back on October 29th they will wake at the correct time and you will have been able to get a good night’s sleep!

If your child is still napping you will need to apply the same principle to their napping routine as well by shifting it 10 minutes later each day too.

Ensure they have a solid bedtime routine.
Having a good bedtime routine is essential if you want to get your kids to sleep & very important during times of adjustment like daylight savings time.

If your child has a bedtime routine such as bath, story, and then sleep, they are getting the opportunity to give the body the signals that bedtime is coming as these are associated with going to bed. This naturally increases melatonin production & the body will find it easier to go to sleep and stay asleep. In the days leading up to the clock changing, if you simply move your usual routine forward as described above, your children will still know what’s coming next so should settle just fine.

If younger children need extra soothing support, thatโ€™s no problem but try to avoid habits that might stick. To help kids adjust to the clock change you can try popping some lavender oil in a warm bath or on their pillow.

If you don’t manage to make the adjustment to your child's bedtime in advance of the clocks changing, don’t worry. You may find that your child’s biological clock is a little out of sync in the few days following the clock change and that’s okay. Stick with your usual routine, ensuring that your little one gets quality sleep and it will sort itself out in a day or two.

Spend time outside.
Spending time outside helps to regulate the body clock to knowing what time of day it is. It is particularly helpful to get morning light exposure before 10am to anchor the day. Time outside will only help your family sleep well.

Where possible, try to limit screen time at least an hour before bed (ideally two) as this can give off blue light exposure which causes your little one to struggle with sleep.

Control the lights.
Melatonin, the sleepy hormone, helps the body get to sleep and stay asleep. Darkness and melatonin go hand in hand and melatonin likes it to be dark to do its job.

To help with this, it’s recommended dim the lights in your little one’s bedroom about 20-30 minutes before they should be going down to sleep. This will help improve sleep quality, sleep time and make your child want to sleep as it gives the body the indication that sleep is coming and increases melatonin production. In the morning, especially at wake-up time, you want to ensure your child gets as much light as possible. Open the curtains wide to let in natural sunlight and try and get them out for a walk (weather permitting).

Avoid reinforcing early waking.
Early waking is the biggest sleep issue that can hang around after the clock change. Where you had a 6am riser well that becomes 5am after the change. Avoid starting the day at that time as far as possible or habits around the early wake that could become expected.

 

Erica Hargaden is a Sleep Consultant and founder of Babogue. Her Sleep Series courses have helped thousands of families achieve their family sleep goals with 96% reporting better sleep as a result of using them.

What is her secret? Each of her Sleep Series courses are supported by her through a private community where families can have their sleep questions answered.

To learn more check out Babogue’s site here.