Just when you've got your baby's sleep routine down pat, Daylight Savings comes along to hit the fan.
Whether we like it or not, Daylight Savings is coming and for most of us it will definitely have an impact on our sleep routines (even for us adults).
Don't worry, there's two ways you go about preparing for the adjustment in time of daylight savings to minimise the disruption of the clocks going forward an hour.
Which one you choose depends mostly on whether you feel able to handle the change in one go or if you prefer to adjust your child’s schedule gradually in the days leading up to or after daylight savings.
There isn't a right or wrong way, at the end of the day choose whatever suits your child’s personality – and yours.
TWO APPROACHES TO ADJUSTING YOUR CHILD’S SLEEP FOR DAYLIGHT SAVINGS
1: GO WITH THE FLOW
This is as simple as keep going as usual, meaning just go with the new time change and go about your sleep schedule as usual.
This approach works well with babies and children who are able to adapt to staying up a little beyond their bedtime and who don’t get too overtired as a result.
So when your little one goes to bed the night before, make sure to change the clocks forward an hour and then continue with your routine as usual.
The following day, keep your child’s routine and sleep schedule the same: food and naps at the usual times.
Blocking out sunlight in the evening and morning can help your child adjust to their new sleep times. Invest in some blackout window coverings, or even use some cardboard or black plastic on the windows.
Upside: Babies and children that are going to sleep and waking up later than you’d like can have their bedtimes adapted so they’re now going to bed and waking earlier. For instance if they struggled to go to sleep before seven, now their body clock will hopefully help them get to sleep at the new time.
Downside: Some early birds may wake up even earlier in the morning than usual when the clock shifts. And when it’s time to head to bed, some babies and toddlers might end up overtired as they struggle to keep pace with the newer, later hour. – but usually this will usually resolve itself in a few days or by the end of the week at the most.
2: THE GRADUAL APPROACH
For some the overnight, sharp one-hour change in schedules is too much to cope with. This is especially true if you feel that you've only just got your baby into a workable routine or if your child is particularly sensitive to a sudden change in their usual daily routine. This approach involves a more gradual change but doesn’t necessarily mean more work.
How this works: It involves tweaking your baby’s schedule by 10 - 15 minutes each day ahead of time until you've moved forward the full hour. If your baby can't last first thing in the morning, just try to make the adjustments as the day goes on. Put your clock back on Saturday night before you go to bed. You can start this tweaking process from up to one week ahead of time or a few days before end of daylight savings.
Upside: This approach usually works for babies older than eight months but some six month olds will also manage this change. Younger babies usually adapt more easily as their schedules aren’t as set and their sleep patterns are often more unpredictable.
Try and adjust the routine from the first feed of the day by 15 mins each day.
This is also a great strategy for correcting early wakings. So, if your baby is one that already wakes too early, for instance at 5am and you would prefer they wake at 6am, then in the weeks before the clocks changing try and adjust their schedule ahead by an hour.
Downside: Some babies need more time to adjust, meaning you'd need to start the adjustment process one or two weeks leading up to the end of daylight savings. This gradual movement of time can be hit or miss and can result in a longer 'painful' adjustmentprocess.
Although some take longer – your baby will eventually be back to their original schedule.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN THE CLOCKS CHANGE
It will generally take about a week after daylight savings for your child to adjust to their new sleep pattern. During this time you may notice that they may be a little more grumpy or tired. Try and be understanding if they are particularly cranky or clingy.
Keep reading your baby’s sleep cues. Their internal clock is more powerful than an actual clock.
Be flexible. The change often makes adults feel out of sorts, so young children can be especially affected by the clocks changing.
As we move further into the cooler season, it’s a good time to consider whether your little one is warm enough at night. It might be time to invest in a cool sleep bag, make sure to choose a TOG rated sleep bag appropriate for your climate.
Take the opportunity to shorten day naps. When they sleep longer at night, they may not take their usual long day naps, therefore be prepared for shorter day naps.
One good thing about the end of daylight savings is that the nights get longer and the mornings and evenings are darker which often helps children sleep a little longer.
Finally, don’t forget to look after yourself too! Adults can also feel sluggish and cranky during this time too so make sure you are also getting the rest you need.
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