Sleep consultant Judy Clark suggests some tips and advice for preparing baby for the clock change.
On the 27 March 2016, the clocks will be moving forward an hour, signalling the start of British Summer Time (BST). Although we will soon have brighter evenings (hurray!), it also means that parents could be getting one hour less sleep.
Daylight savings can wreak havoc on everyone’s sleep schedules. The time difference increases sleep debt for both kids and adults. There is even evidence that more traffic accidents occur on the day after the clocks change, proving just how tough lost sleep can be on our mind and bodies. As a nation we already sleep-deprived and losing another hour only makes things worse.
Summer time clock changes
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. The lighter evenings mean that summer is on the way and we can look forward to cheerful spring sunshine. But for anyone with a small child who has been placed carefully into a good bedtime routine, the changing of the clocks can create concerns about how it will affect their sleep.
Keep in mind that babies and toddlers have no concept of time; young children can only use their internal body clocks to tell them when to wake up. You can actually use this to your advantage. The secret is to prepare for the change. If you do this, you should discover that their sleep routine gets back to normal quite quickly.
Tips for preparing baby for the clock change
Readjust their body clock
You’ll probably find once the clocks have changed your child will become tired an hour before their normal bedtime. Before the clocks go forward, try waking them a little later each day or let them sleep longer during the day. By making small adjustments you can help to readjust their body clock and help them to move their natural bedtime (and waking time) to an hour later.
Move bedtime earlier
One of the easiest ways to get your baby or child used to the time change is by bringing their bedtime earlier by a few minutes every day. Starting around about a week before the clocks are due to change, move bedtime forward by just 5 minutes each and every day. This small difference won’t be noticeable to your child, but it will allow you to have them back to their usual bedtime by the start of British Summer Time.
Keep it pitch black
My last tip is to keep the room dark by fitting a blackout blind. The lighter evenings can make it more difficult for children to fall asleep. Whenever you put them to bed, using blinds keep out the daylight will help little one’s prepare for sleep time.
When the clock change is a good thing
The clocks moving forward isn’t always a bad thing; in some cases it may be to your benefit. If your little one tends to wake too early, you could use the clock change to grab some more morning sleep time.
Simply leave bedtime at its usual time – which in practice will become an hour later (e.g. a 6.30pm bedtime will now become 7.30pm). With any luck they will sleep an hour later in the morning according to the clock. They will get the same amount of sleep, but you will get a psychological lie in!