Winter is fast approaching (although it is still up to 18 degrees in the day this week which seems a little mad for this time of year!), and this means not only Halloween, Fireworks and Christmas, but also the clock change! Uhoh! Something that many of my lovely clients worry about, particularly when they have spent so long getting their little people into beautiful sleep and routine patterns only for it to be all thrown up into the air by the clocks going backwards.
Fear not though, children and babies in particular seem to adapt very well to changes in the body clock as long as these are not too much of a shock, and are made gently. So here are my top tips on preparing for the clock change in the coming days…
1) Starting on Thursday morning, move each nap and feed time forward by 15 minutes, so that come Sunday, you will be on a routine that is an hour later than it would normally be, which means with the clock going back it will be the same routine as you are on now! For example, if you are on a 7am – 7pm routine, on Thursday do bedtime at 7.15pm, Friday 7.30pm and so on. This will mean that Sunday’s 8pm bedtime, will actually be 7pm once adjusted to the winter time clock!
2) Maintain your calm bedtime environment and routine – this means sticking with your bath, stories, feeding and songs before bedtime. It will be even darker on Sunday, so it should help even more to settle your little ones, but keeping their consistency will help their bodies understand what is going to happen, even if their body clock feels a little confused by the time change.
3) Melatonin is produced by the body when it is nice and dark, so the Winter clock change is actually the slightly easier time change to get used to as melatonin levels rise throughout the afternoon preparing your child for bedtime. Try not to let them have their longest nap of the day in the late afternoon, as this will steal the melatonin they have been producing from their night time – when you really need them to sleep!
4) Have a think about temperature as the season begins to change. It may be unusually mild for this time of year, but the temperature will be sure to change very soon, meaning that you will likely want to have a re-think about what they are settling to sleep in. Perhaps an extra layer of vest is needed, or a thicker sleeping bag? You can check the Lullaby Trust guidelines here for baby room temperature here
5) Getting out and about in the afternoons may start to become a bit more difficult as it gets darker – no one wants to be trudging to the park at 4pm in afternoon in the dark! However remember that babies and children need fresh air and stimulation, so do your best to get out at least for a little part of the later afternoon, so that your little one is more stimulated and exhausted in preparation for bedtime!
Remember – “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”, so wrap up warm, enjoy your Halloween and Fireworks celebrations, and most importantly sleep well!