Paediatric sleep expert shares tips for helping children adjust when the clocks go forward
The clocks go forward this Sunday, March 27.
The time change can take it's toll on little ones and it can take a few days and as long as a week for the body to adjust to a different mood lighting caused by the change and the fact that our natural body clock is being challenged.
• Do nothing.
You and your child can immediately follow the time once the clock changes.
If your child historically wakes at 7am and goes to bed around 7pm, the day the clock changes it will say 6am, but it is no different to the day before.
Stick to the same schedule and put them to bed when the clock says 7pm, but that will really be 8pm.
For babies and toddlers who are not sensitive to being over-tired and highly adaptable, they adjust within a few days and re-settle into the same schedule they have been on previous to the change.
• The second option is to slowly change your child’s schedule over the course of a few days before the time change.
For example, you could start today, 4 days prior to the time change, by putting your child to bed 15 minutes earlier than normal in the hope that they wake 15 minutes earlier in the morning.
This is determined by our internal clock, so may not always happen.
Also, offer naps 15 minutes earlier. For the next few days put them to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until the night of the time change and you will be back to your normal timetable and no further adjustments are required.
You will know your own child best and if typically they are “slow to adapt” this gradual approach may be the preferred option for you.
• Finally, you could consider sticking to your normal schedule up until the time change and once it kicks in, be flexible and alter the schedule as much as your child can handle.
I often find that splitting the difference between the “old” time and the “new” time works well; on the first night they would go to bed at 7pm and this would have been 6.30pm on the day before, so 30 minutes after their typical bedtime and then adjust the rest of schedule accordingly.