Six ways to manage children’s sleep when the clocks change
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!
There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to this. Firstly, despite our fears – most children will naturally adjust over the course of a few days or a week. This means many people will just leave nature to take its course and allow their child to settle into the new time at their own pace.
Others, however, believe that a little planning in the week leading up to the change can go a long way to making the situation more hassle-free for all involved.
So, how can you manage your child’s sleep pattern ahead of the change?
Here are our top tips:
- For a week beforehand, move your child’s bedtime ten minutes later each day (or earlier when the clocks are going back), until they are going to bed an hour later (or earlier). Then when the clocks change, your child should be expecting to go to bed at their normal time (don’t worry too much if they don’t go to sleep immediately – this is more of a gradual time to move their bedtime later).
- 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.
What will make the change around bedtime and waking up easier?
- Regardless of the time you put them to bed, be sure to keep your child’s bedtime 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.
- Light makes a huge impact on our body clock, so consider using blackout blinds or heavy curtains to keep the bedroom dark, especially during the lighter summer months.
- If possible, 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.
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, do remember that it should only last a few days.
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer