How can I manage my child’s sleep when the clocks change?

March 25, 2016 Published by

As parents, many of us know the struggle of managing to finally get a solid sleep routine in place. Then twice a year, daylight saving comes around and can turn everything on its head! 

This can throw important routines out of sync and the knock-on effect can lead to grumpy, irritable and difficult to manage children (and adults!) as they reset their internal clocks.

A little planning in the week leading up to the change can go a long way to make the situation more hassle-free for all involved.

Here are a few tips to survive the clocks changing this autumn:

  • Plan in advance and help your little ones transition to the new schedule – keeping to the same bedtime routine and altering the time slowly over several days can work best – for example, move your child’s bedtime ten minutes later each day. 
  • Don’t just move sleep, move all elements of their day by the same amount of time each day, including meals, naps, bath time, etc. 
  • Try to mirror this in your own routine so that the whole family takes the change in their stride together – don’t be tempted to lie-in, getting up at the usual time will help you to adjust faster. 
  • Light up clocks can also be helpful for teaching your child about the importance of sleep as light makes a big impact on our body clock. You can set them to light up at a certain time to signal when it is OK to get up. 

What will make the change around bedtime and waking up easier?

Regardless of the time you put them to bed, keep their routine the same each night 

Whether you read a story, do some baby massage or sing lullabies, these are all cues for your child that bedtime is near and are important to help them wind down at the end of the day.

Try to let your child wake naturally 

We can put this in the ‘nice problems to have category’ as many children wake early, but it’s better if you can allow children to wake up naturally and alter bedtimes to enable them to get enough sleep instead of waking them.

Make an effort with your own routine 

It’s not just children who need a bit of planning to change onto the new time, parents should also make an effort too – it can be a good time to refresh your family’s routine and make sure everyone gets the best shot at a good night’s sleep. 

 

Summary

The main thing to remember is that a child with a good sleep routine tends to fare much better with the changes in time, so try to instil that bedtime routine if you can. And if all else fails and you have a tired grumpy child who doesn’t know when to sleep, remember, it should only last a few days. 

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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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