It's that time of year again when the clocks change. Here in the UK the clocks go forward 1 hour on Sunday 29th March. So what does this mean for your little one's sleep? Unfortunately babies and young children don't have the common courtesy to check their watches and adjust their routines; not even those with Gro clocks or the like can be expected to alter timings by themselves unfortunately, so this means there's some work to be done. There are a few choices so I thought it would be helpful to talk them through with you:
1. Do nothing. Really? Well if your child's routine has somehow gotten a bit too early according to your family's schedules (into bed and up for the day too early) then do nothing. Let's say your child goes to bed at 6pm and wakes for the day at 5am. You would rather they woke a little later and would love it if they stayed up later to see Mum/Dad when they get home from work. Perfect, do nothing, then on Sunday feel very smug that without any effort at all your child is now waking at 6am and going down for the night at 7pm just as you wanted. :)
2. Quickly adjust your child into the new time once the clocks change. If you have an easy going child, who is adaptable and laid back then very likely you can get them settled into the new time within about 3 days. So you'll find everything is a bit late initially but very quickly you're back on track. You can't really expect this to happen instantly because body clocks do take a little time to adjust so don't try to do it overnight. If your baby fits into this category then here's what you need to do. On day 1 wake your child 20 minutes earlier for the day, then move everything in their routine earlier by 20 mins (this includes all feeds, naps, bedtime routine, bed time and if you have scheduled night feeds move them too). On day 2 move everything 20 minutes again and then day 3 another 20 minutes so that you're into the new time. There you go, done :) If anything odd happens, say your little one wakes up ultra early one day during the transition, don't be tempted to skip a day - your child will just get overtired and then you're in a world of trouble. Also don't forget you have to start with getting your child up earlier in the morning (and by this I mean exposing them to daylight to kick start their circadian rhythm), otherwise they won't build up enough sleep pressure to go to bed earlier later on.
3. If you have a sensitive child who loves their routine and is terrible with change then you'll need to go slow. Start now if you can; particularly if a late morning wake time once the clock changes will interfere with getting ready for nursery for example. You know your own child so you can be the judge of how slow you need to go, but essentially the principals are the same as option 2. Some sensitive children manage a 10 minute alteration each day and others need 10 minutes every other day. Just make sure you move the whole routine evenly. If your child is ultra sensitive like mine then it still may take some time for them to settle into the new schedule even once you've moved everything forward an hour. When my little one was younger it would take about a month for his body to fully adjust!
Hope that helps. Enjoy the lighter evenings. We had our first BBQ of the year last night...needless to say we ate indoors!