Daylight Savings - How to Adjust Your Little One's Sleep Schedule For The Spring Clock Change
Updated: Mar 19
Spring is here (finally!) and with it comes the dreaded spring clock change.
It can be a challenge to adjust your children's sleep schedule to the new daylight savings time. But don't worry, I've got you covered!
From adjusting timings to creating a routine, this article will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to make sure your infant or baby gets enough sleep during the spring clock change. So let's get started!
On Sunday the 26th March 2023, the clocks will spring forwards by one hour. And yes, that means we lose 1 hour of sleep. As if sleep wasn't precious, and fleeting enough as it is.
I've got 3 simple strategies to help your little one adjust to the lost hour, plus some bonus tips for better sleep.
The gradual approach. This option works well for children who are sensitive to change.
For this approach, you need to get started on the Wednesday before the clocks go forwards. That night you'll put your little one to bed 15 minutes earlier than their normal bedtime. So, if they are usually in bed for 7 pm, get them down at 6:45 pm.
On the Thursday put them down 15 minutes earlier again, this will be 6:30 pm
Same again on the Friday and Saturday night. So, by the Saturday night, you'll be putting your little one down 1 hour earlier than their normal bedtime, but it won't feel like that as we have gradually shifted their schedule. This means that when they wake up at the newly adjusted time on Sunday, they won't feel like they have lost an hour.
Split The Difference. This option works well for older children, perhaps ones that are down to a 1 nap schedule, and maybe ones who could do with catching up on a little sleep.
For this option, you're going to put your little one down to bed 30 minutes earlier than their usual bedtime. Meaning they will only have 30 minutes of the lost hour to make up.
This option isn’t for everyone. If your child is sensitive to change and doesn’t have a sleep deficit to catch up on, then expecting them to go to bed earlier than normal may be a big ask.
This is the most simple of all 3. Are you ready for it. Ok...do nothing. It may not seem like much of an option, but actually, this works brilliantly for those who have an early riser. If you've had weeks of your little one waking early, then changing nothing means they will now be waking an hour later, and hopefully at a much more respectable time.
It does however mean they have lost an hour of sleep, so be mindful of how they’re getting on towards bedtime, and if you need to, bring that forward to allow them to catch up. Remember that early to bed does not always mean an early wake.
More Tips For Better Sleep
With any of the strategies above, the key is consistency and routine. Here are some extra tips for better sleep.
Stick to the new schedule. On Sunday, stick with the adjusted time. Meal times, naps, and bedtime all at the new time.
Wake them up at their normal time. If your little one usually wakes at 6:45 am, wake them at 6:45 am on the new time. It will feel like 5:45 am to them, but it will allow them to adjust quickly to the changes. If your child is still napping then be sure to wake them by 7 am so that they can fit these in on the new schedule.
Work to your little ones' wake window. This is the amount of time they should be awake between waking and needing to go back to sleep. Wake windows change as your little one gets older, so it is important to always work within their window. And remember that they are an average, not a target. Not sure what wake window your little one should be on, download my free guide here.
Get plenty of daylight and exercise. Getting out in the morning light and letting the kids run around helps their body clock adjust to the new schedule.
Play outside in the afternoon. Getting out in the afternoon light actually signals to their body (and ours) that we're nearing the end of the day, and melatonin will start to release. This is the sleep hormone that helps us to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Keep screens off and the lights low in the evening. Avoid screens at least 1 hour before bed, and keep the lights as low as you can. This too, helps their body clocks adjust to the new timings and prepare for a long sleep.
Blackout their room. With the days stretching longer, and more sunshine (fingers crossed) it's worth double-checking their room to make sure the blackout blinds are working well. If 10 is pitch black then we want the room to be at least an 8. I like to double up on the blackout blinds and add in the Tommie Tippe portable blackout.
Make sure you have a solid bedtime routine in place. Little ones thrive on routine and repetition. So having the same steps in the same order for every nap and bedtime really helps to promote good sleep.
It is important to remember that with any changes to sleep, it takes time for them to establish. Allow about a week of things feeling a little out of sync. If after a week they haven't settled back down, then take a look at their total daytime and overnight sleep and see if you need to make any changes.
Need some extra help with your little ones’ sleep?
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