How to prepare your child for the end of daylight saving (and save your sleep)

How to prepare your child for the end of daylight saving (and save your sleep)

Get ready to turn the clock back on April 5th for the end of daylight saving.
Cooler weather means better sleep. Both adults and children tend to sleep better and more deeply in cooler temperatures. Even if it varies from person to person, a good temperature to aim for is 20°C. So make sure you don’t compensate for the cooler weather by dressing your baby or child too warmly, as it might make her sleep restless. If your baby is younger than six months old, she will most likely adjust naturally within a few days, leaving you no need to worry at all. If your child is over eight months old, on a strict feed and sleep schedule, or particularity sensitive to changes, you might want to start adjusting your whole routine now, before we turn the clock back.

Adjusting to time change

While adults find it easier to adjust to the change, some children will struggle, and by preparing early for the change, you are already on the right track! We all know too well how precious that early morning hour is.

How it may affect your child (and you)

You will notice during the colder months that your child may want to go to bed slightly earlier in the evening, and that she sleeps longer at night. This is completely normal, as our sleep rhythm is affected by the sun and light. Furthermore, longer night sleeps may affect the day naps. If you find that the longer night sleeps cause your child to get exhausted during the days, you will need to shorten the night sleeps slightly, to allow more time for the day naps. If your child tends to go to bed too late at night, and wakes up too late in the mornings, here’s your chance to bump her schedule into place, with a little help from daylight saving.
One year old baby lying in bed with alarm clock and crying
Picture: iStock

Plan ahead and take baby steps

When making adjustments to your child’s schedule, the trick is to make small incremental adjustments gradually and to start as early as possible. This will assist your child to transition into place when the clocks change. Any drastic changes to your child’s sleep routine from one day to the next will almost guarantee the risk of leaving you with a cranky child with all the challenges we’re desperately trying to avoid. Mornings can be particularly challenging, when you are weighing up if your baby has had enough sleep for the night (especially if your baby wakes up too early). Early starts risk your child’s day naps and sleep routine, which can get thrown off leading to your child becoming over-tired and harder to settle.

Moving your baby’s schedule

This isn’t easy, but with a bit of planning you can successfully move your baby’s schedule in the next week or two. This is especially important if your baby is already waking up too early. By transitioning slowly and starting early, you can move your baby’s whole routine by one hour before the time change. For example: If your baby normally wakes up at 6am, and you’d like her to wake up at 6am after the time change, you should start by gradually adjusting her whole routine, including meal, play and day naps. Even 10 minutes each day will see you ready when the clocks go back. When daylight saving ends and you find yourself on the journey returning to 6am (from what would otherwise become 7am) you do exactly the same moving in the opposite direction as early and as gradually as possible. During the adjustment or preparation period it might mean you will be going earlier to bed and waking up earlier with your child. If you’re persistent and patient, you’ll get there and you’ll improve the sleeping habits of your whole family.
Monthly baby sleeping on the arm of his father's hand, position to help colic
Late bedtimes often lead to over-tiredness, which means restless nights for babies and toddlers, and earlier morning wake-up times. So keep an eye on your baby’s bedtime, and if needed, make the changes slow and steady as early as possible so you’re ready when you’re approaching changes to daylight saving. Published on Kidspot Parenting.

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