The clocks will change in Ireland and the UK next weekend on the 28th of March 2021 at 2am. Other countries may have changed their clocks already or later but the same information applies.
Although your smart phone and tv will automatically adjust, the clock in your car and your baby will not. I can’t really help you with the clock in your car – leave it alone, it will be correct again in October – but I have some tips to help adjust your baby’s routine.
What happens with this clock change? Well, the mornings will begin to get brighter and the evenings will get lighter – woohoo!
If you have an early riser in your house, this change may actually help your little one – double woohoo!!
What can we do to help your Sleepy Star to adjust to the “new time”?
I personally find it easier to adjust children on to the Spring Clock change compared to the Autumn one, but it really will depend on how strong their routine is in advance of the change.
First of all my advice is, don’t panic, children are very adaptable, and although it may cause an unsettled period for 3-5 days, things will settle down and return to “normal” very quickly.
If your baby is already on a great routine – their body clock, naps and hunger habits are strong – so then your baby will adjust easily to the clock change.
In my experience you have two approaches to helping your baby with this “spring forward”.
Jump right in and start the new day on the new time. Wake your little one by 7:15am and begin your new day. Often the feeds help the naps fall in to place – remember your little one does not know what time it is – they just know that when they sit in the high chair/nursing chair that it’s time to feed, or when they are brought to the bedroom environment that it’s time to sleep. From a very young age babies can make strong location associations.
For years I have travelled the world with families. I’ve landed into different time zones at ridiculous o’clock in the morning and my usual plan of action would be to allow some play in the room whilst I unpacked the essentials. I’d run the bath, do stories/songs then feed and bed – and guess what, they slept!! I’d wake them up at 7:15am latest local time and boom we were on the new time zone. Depending on the age of the child a planned mini dreamfeed or two would curve the hunger habit for any meals we might be bypassing back on “home time”.
Plan ahead. Honestly in my entire career I’ve done this only a handful of times. I usually make a genuine effort with the October clock change as it’s a little trickier, but with busy days I often forget and before I know it, it’s the eve of the clock change.
With the planned approach you gradually move your child’s routine on to the new time. If your child usually sleeps until 6:45am then you can move the wake time earlier, e.g. 6:30am, then 6:15am for a few days before the actual clock change. Also, bring meals and naps slightly earlier so that you are on the “new time” before it even happens.
What else should you consider?
Every March to May I get panicked texts from parents of Sleepy Stars whom I helped in the middle of the previous winter. They announce that they “broke the baby” and there’s a plea for help! Their Sleepy Star who used to sleep 12 hours is now waking earlier … mmm why, you may ask? Well the child’s bedroom was pitch dark in the depths of winter and now it’s a whole lot brighter.
With the sun shining earlier and lower as the bright summer mornings start to roll in, your child who used to sleep until 7am may begin to wake a little earlier as the sun enters their room streaming through the cracks in the curtains. This signals to their brain to stop releasing the “oh so precious” hormone, Melatonin, and that it’s time to start the day. But no one wants to start their day at 5:30!!
The brighter evenings can also cause havoc with older children. You’ll often hear “but it’s still bright out” when you are trying to convince them that it is actually bedtime and you’re not trying to cheat them out of play time!
You can keep those early sunrise wake-ups at bay by installing black-out blinds. These blinds can also help achieve longer naps on bright summer days, especially for those children who are new to having long naps in the middle of the day. The black-out blinds will also help you convince your toddler that it is in actual fact night-time, and you’re not just putting them to bed so you can binge the latest series on Netflix.
There are lots of black-out blinds you can buy but we’d love you to buy ours – locally shipped from Dublin within 24 hours and if you use ShopLocal10 you’ll get 10% discount too – https://sleepystars.ie/product/portable-black-out-blind/
Naptime Top Tip
Don’t leave your blinds up forever-more during the day. Once your little one is sleeping well for their naps then I would encourage you to introduce a little light (and noise – radio on in another room) to help your baby to be a “flexible” sleeper. No one wants a child who will only sleep in pitch dark environments and children who do really struggle to adapt to day-care/crèche sleeping environments. Also don’t leave your blinds up all day long it as they could cause the room to overheat – you need to allow fresh air to circulate within your child’s room.
For those of you with older children you may have already introduced the Gro-Clock. This is a handy visual tool for helping your little one know when it’s time to start the day and when it’s bedtime.
I hope you find this useful. No matter what – remember, the days are long but the years are short: enjoy them.
Kelly, Sleepy Stars