Pre-parenthood, I loved the Autumn clock-change! A whole extra hour in bed that I didn’t have to compromise anything else to achieve – bliss! However, for parents, the end of daylight saving often instils fear as even the soundest of little sleepers typically wakes between 6 and 7 am. Cue the parental anxiety that, literally overnight, that 6 will become a 5…
With the Little Sleep Stars step-by-step guide, you can help your little one navigate this tricky sleep hurdle like a pro.
Age and Adaptability
For babies, toddlers or an older child with rigid sleep and wake times, an incremental approach is usually best. More flexible pre-schoolers and older children are typically able to manage the transition in one or two larger steps.
An Incremental Approach
Begin on Wednesday night by putting your child to bed 15 minutes later than usual. Allow them to sleep in a little in the morning if their wake-up time also moves out. If at all possible, push meal and nap time(s) back by 15 minutes on Thursday and then put your little one down 15 minutes later than the previous night (30 minutes later than their usual bedtime). Repeat the process of pushing the nap(s) and meals back on Friday and extend bedtime by a further 15 minutes that night. Repeat on Saturday, culminating in putting your child to bed that night a full hour later than where you started.
Staggering the one-hour change across four small chunks is manageable for almost all children. For a child who falls asleep at a different time each night, however, this approach can be tricky to implement.
For an older child who no longer naps, you may find they can simply stay up an hour later on Saturday night with no adverse effect. A three or four-year-old might be given a helping hand by a 30-minute afternoon snooze in the car!
Be aware, however, that a child can become too tired and pushing an exhausted little one through a full extra hour can have a horrible consequence: overtiredness may drive them to rise at a time starting with a 4..!
Splitting the Difference
This is a lower-risk alternative to going all-in. Instead of delaying sleep by a full hour on Saturday night, parents can put their little one down 30 minutes later than usual. Whilst your child isn’t likely to make it all the way to their normal wake time by the new clock, they are less likely to tip into the black hole of overtiredness. The difference caused by a slightly early wake-up will be easily ironed out over the following few days.
Help Not Hinder
With darker nights come lighter mornings which can wreak havoc with child sleep – blackout blinds, even the portable type that sticks directly onto a window underneath the existing blind/curtains, can be one of the best investments a parent ever makes.
If your child uses a sleep/wake clock, remember to adjust it before they go to bed so that it doesn’t endorse a start to the day that is an hour too early.
If All Else Fails!
Babies and young children cannot tell the time – they are driven by what time it feels like. If, despite your best-laid plans, things have gone awry when you wake on Sunday morning, forge ahead with family life according to the “new” time. A child’s body-clock is influenced by cues such as mealtimes and their bedtime routine, so, if these remain consistent in the days following the clock-change, your little one will adapt.
More on Little Sleep Stars
Following the arrival of her son, Lauren retrained as a child sleep consultant, initially sitting within the Sleep Nanny brand before establishing her own Little Sleep Stars at the start of 2018. Lauren works with the families of babies and children up to the age of 6, throughout the UK and also internationally. By creating bespoke sleep plans using gentle techniques, Little Sleep Stars can help any child learn to sleep well.
***This is a sponsored blog by Little Sleep Stars for Wharfedale & Craven Mumbler