If only our kids could get the memo to simply enjoy that extra time in bed…but unfortunately that’s rarely the case and that pesky little hour can cause disruption to our little ones’ sleep as their internal body clocks readjust to the new time.
Parents with early risers really worry about this time change because it means that your already-early morning start becomes even earlier. If your child is getting up at 5:30am, this now becomes 4:30am - noooooooo! This may sound like a total nightmare but it can actually work in your favour as you have an extra hour to try to get your child back to sleep. This extra hour of resettling time, believe it or not, can actually make it easier to push your child’s wake-up time to 7am.
So what can we do to make this transition as easy as possible for them (and us!)?
It is important to remember that once the clocks change we will be expecting our little ones to stay in bed an extra hour in the morning, a hard task in itself, made even harder because their rooms will be lighter than usual.
To avoid the dreaded super-early morning wake-ups sticking around - and to also encourage good daytime naps - it is a good idea to make sure your child’s room is as dark as possible, even during the day. This will promote the production of your child’s sleepy hormone (melatonin), which is essential for good sleep. I always recommend blackout curtains or blinds - they are a worthy investment!
White noise is also worth considering, even for older children, because it can help to mask any external noises during those early hours.
To help your child cope with the extra hour, it can help to distract them with extra attention - whether that be playing, quiet time or cuddles. Getting your child out for some fresh air and exposing them to lots of sunlight, particularly first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon, can also help.
There are a couple of different approaches you can take to adjust your child’s body clock, depending on whether you want to be reactive or proactive. Whichever approach you take, remember that you are initially expecting your child to cope with an extra hour in their day. For most children this can lead to a few days (or more) of unsettledness, as their body fully adjusts.
With either approach, you may need to use some resettling to encourage the adjustment.
If you want to prepare your child and adjust their body clock before the clocks change, then this is the approach for you.
With this approach, you will gradually shift your child’s body clock the week before Daylight Savings ends, meaning that they will already be adjusted to the new time once the clocks change.
To do this, put the following plan in place the week before the clocks change (note that this plan assumes that your child is on a 7am-7pm schedule):
Monday/Tuesday: Push everything 15 minutes later than usual, so:
Wednesday/Thursday: Push everything 30 minutes later than usual, so:
Friday/Saturday: Push everything 45 minutes later than usual, so:
Sunday: Pushing everything forwards another 15 mins on Sunday, after the clocks have gone back, should now mean that your child is in the ‘new time’, so:
If you are happy to adjust your child’s body clock after the clocks have changed, then this is the approach for you.
With this approach, you will gradually shift your child’s body clock after Daylight Savings has ended.
To do this, put the following plan in place the week after the clocks have changed (note that this plan assumes that your child is on a 7am-7pm schedule):
Monday/Tuesday: Push everything 15 minutes later, so:
Wednesday/Thursday: Push everything 30 minutes later, so:
Friday/Saturday: Push everything 45 minutes later, so:
Sunday: Pushing everything forwards another 15 mins should now mean that your child is in the ‘new time’, so: