As all parents know, getting babies off to sleep is a bit of a dark art at the best of times. Add to this the change in British Summer Time and all the old routines can be thrown out in a big way. Luckily, help is at hand… our baby and sleep expert Ann Caird is here to ease the BST sleep transition.
At the end of the month the clocks ‘spring forward’ an hour in keeping with British Summer Time. Adjusting to new times and losing an hour’s sleep can be very disruptive for little ones and may threaten your well planned schedules and routines. With a little forward planning though, the adjustment to BST can be made easier for all! Sleep experts suggest making changes to children’s waking/sleep times gradually in small steps, so start making changes a week before the clocks ‘spring forward’. The aim is to move your child’s day 15 minutes earlier every second day. To start then, if bedtime is normally 7.30pm and your little one wakes at 7am, bedtime becomes 7.15pm and waking time 6.45am. Do this for 2 days and move the day’s routines 15 minutes earlier as well. Then move the day forward another 15 minutes for 2 days, and repeat until you are putting your child to bed an hour earlier, which should coincide with the clocks ‘springing forward’ an hour early Sunday morning. Practical Tips for Success. Although there maybe some timings you can’t adjust, like nursery or playgroup times, try to keep your daily routine as consistent as possible during your ‘adjustment week’. The timing of mealtimes for example helps set children’s internal biological clock and sleep/wake cycles, so move your child’s mealtimes 15 minutes earlier too in relation to waking time and planned bedtime. Adjust naps according to wake-up time during the adjustment week. Try to avoid longer than usual naps – unless your little one is unwell or there is another reason for an increased sleep requirement. Start the bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier too and keep it consistent and predictable. The rituals you include within your routine help create feelings of security and emotional wellbeing for children by providing a predictable, loving wind-down to sleep. If your child enjoys favourite television programmes as part of the after tea or pre-bedtime routine, then think about recording some programmes in advance so you can continue to include them in routines during your adjustment week. Lots of outdoor play will promote sleep and reduce sleep latency, that is, help your child to get to sleep quicker! Babies may benefit more from an even more gradual adjustment period. So start about 10 days before the clocks spring forward and move your baby’s day forward by 10 minutes every 2 days.