Fall Back; How to Prepare your Little Person for the Winter Clock Change
Winter is fast approaching and this means not only Halloween, Fireworks and Christmas, but also the clock change! Uh oh! 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 Wednesday morning, move each nap and feed time later 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 Wednesday 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!
You can also opt for adjusting bedtime just by half an hour on the day before, so that you meet in the middle and bedtime is half an hour later on the day before the clock change, and then another half hour later on Saturday night, which gets you to 8pm for the clock change (a.k.a 7pm after the clock change!).
Don’t forget there is also the option to just do nothing….and see what happens! An hour is not much at all for a little person’s body clock and they can adjust within a few days, maximum a week.
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. Exposing to natural light until it gets dark will help and reducing white light/screens from when it gets dark (5pm onwards) will also really increase their likelihood of settling and sleeping better.
4) Have a think about temperature as the season begins to change. It may be 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!
The clock change can be a cause of anxiety for some parents, especially those who are already experiencing 5am waking’s but rest assured, usually things adjust quickly, and if they don’t feel free to book in an early wakes call, where we can discuss everything you can do to help.
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!