Fi Star-Stone is a broadcaster, mom of two and author of The Baby Bedtime Book – Say Goodnight to Sleepless Nights! A gentle sleep guide that covers sleep issues from newborns right up to pre-teen! As one of the UK’s leading parenting experts Fi runs the UK’s only award-winning, FREE, parent advice service through her website Childcare is Fun! Here she gives her advice on surviving daylight-saving times…
Daylight saving time is often the worst time of year for those with little ones as it can wreak havoc on babies and toddlers sleep routines! By following my gentle sleep tips hopefully you’ll find the transition to the new hours, a little easier to manage!
My tops Tips for surviving the daylight-saving times with little ones!
Springtime – Spring forward into a happy baby bedtime!
When we pop those clocks forward it means an hour’s less sleep for us (I know – I know) and your little one too. But don’t panic – you can avoid problems by getting your child ready about a week before the clock change.
My top tip for clock-rockin’ baby-bedtime-happiness is to put your little one to bed 10-15 minutes earlier each night for seven nights. This simple tip can really help make the transition smoother and the clock change tick tock along nicely.
If you’re reading this with less than seven nights to prepare – don’t worry, start as soon as you can, even a couple of nights before the clock-change can really help.
With older children, if you are not already using one – use a sleep clock like the Groclock! These clocks are fantastic and really help little ones to know when it is OK to get up out of bed and come to you.
The Groclock shows a star and glows blue at night-time, then glows a brilliant yellow and shows a sunshine when it’s time to wake up. Simply set the Groclock at bedtime with your preferred wake-up time (nothing too unrealistic, while we’d all like a 9:30am lie-in, a 7-8am wake-up is more achievable!) Explain to your little ones that if they wake early, they must ‘wait for the sunshine.’
When starting to use the Groclock, you may need to pop them back to bed for a few mornings or go into them to reassure them before the sunshine shows. Tell them to ‘wait for the sunshine’ and leave them again.
If they are wide-awake only half an hour before the clock is due to change into the sunshine, reading books in bed is fine! I encourage this for early risers as it gets them into a little routine of waking gently and waiting until the right get-up time. My two who are 4 and 5 years old, especially in lighter mornings, often wake at 6:45am and will ‘read’ until the sunshine appears on their sleep clock at 7am.
Autumn time – Fall back into a Happy baby bedtime
For those without little bundles of joy, this means an extra hour of glorious sleep! For us parents – not so lucky. For us it means baby is likely to wake on time – meaning the usual 7am get-up-and-go is now 6am. Ouch.
In the autumn – simply reverse the springtime top tip for a happy baby bedtime! So, starting seven nights before the clock change, put your little one to bed 10 minutes later each night leading up to the clock change.
Whereas before, in Springtime you may need black-out blinds or curtains – you may find the new winter times are on your side. Little ones often sleep better in the winter because of our dark mornings and earlier dark nights.
As mentioned in the Springtime tips – with older children, if you are not already using one – use a sleep clock. These clocks are fantastic and really help them to know when it is OK to get up out of bed and get you. Simply change the clock at bedtime – and explain to your little ones that if they wake early, they must wait for the sunshine.
Finally, the week after clock changes you may find your little one is unsettled. Try not to worry – they’ll soon settle once they get into the new time zone. By sticking to your usual daily routine, and a happy bedtime routine and you’ll soon have a happy sleeper again.