That pesky little hour can cause a bit of disruption to our little ones’ sleep as their internal body clocks readjust to the new time, but don’t fear, there are a few things we can do to make this transition as easy as possible for them (and us!).
It is important to remember that our evenings and mornings will be getting much lighter. Once Daylight Savings hits, we will be expecting our little ones to be going to bed while the sun is still up and, as summer approaches, light will be streaming into their bedrooms earlier and earlier in the morning.
To avoid nap/bedtime struggles or the dreaded early morning wake-ups, it can be a good idea to make sure that 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. To help darken your child’s room, blackout curtains or blinds are a worthy investment, especially at this time of the year.
White noise is also worth considering - even for older children - because it can help to mask any external noises during those early hours. I love the sound of the dawn chorus, but if those pesky birds wake my little ones up at 5am, I’m not such a fan!
There are a few different approaches you can take to adjust your child’s body clock. Whichever approach you take, remember that your child is initially getting an hour less sleep than they are used to. For some children - particularly those who are very sensitive to change - this can lead to a few days of unsettledness, as their body fully adjusts.
If you want to prepare your child and adjust their body clock before the clocks actually change, then this is the approach for you.
This can be particularly helpful if you have commitments that mean your child needs to be awake by 7am, e.g. daycare drop-off, or if you need to retain an earlier bedtime throughout the transition.
With this approach, you will gradually shift your child’s body clock the week before Daylight Savings starts, 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 Daylight Savings begins (note that this plan assumes that your child is on a 7am-7pm schedule):
Monday/Tuesday: Bring everything 15 minutes earlier than usual, so:
Wednesday/Thursday: Bring everything 30 minutes earlier than usual, so:
Friday/Saturday: Bring everything 45 minutes earlier than usual, so:
Sunday: Pulling everything back another 15 minutes on Sunday, after the clocks have gone forwards, 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.
This approach can work well if you don’t have any commitments and your child can have a few later mornings and evenings whilst they adjust. It also gives you a bit of a ‘sleep-in’, which can be nice if you don’t need to be up at the ‘new’ 7am!
With this approach, you will gradually shift your child’s body clock after Daylight Savings has kicked in.
To do this, put the following plan in place the week after Daylight Savings has started (note that this plan assumes that your child is on a 7am-7pm schedule):
Sunday: Do a happy dance and enjoy your ‘lie-in’ until 8am (7am old time)!
Monday/Tuesday: Bring everything 15 minutes earlier, so:
Wednesday/Thursday: Bring everything 30 minutes earlier, so:
Friday/Saturday: Bring everything 45 minutes earlier, so:
Sunday: Pulling everything back another 15 minutes should now mean that your child is in the ‘new time’, so:
Assuming that your child is on a 7am-7pm schedule, with this approach you would simply wake your child at 7am the morning that Daylight Savings has started. This would be 6am their body clock time, so you will be waking them an hour earlier than their body is used to.
You would then simply follow the ‘new’ clock time, so offer all naps, feeds and solids at your child’s normal time and put them to bed at 7pm.
I generally advise a more gradual approach, as it tends to work better for most children, so I would only attempt this third ‘One Fell Swoop’ approach if your child is a good sleeper who is easy-going, flexible and not particularly sensitive to change. Even then you may still find that they take a few days to fully adjust.