Tips for helping your baby adjust to the change of seasons

Remember the days when you used to look forward to the clocks going back because it meant an extra hour snuggled in bed with a cup of coffee and the morning paper…when you become a parent unfortunately these fond memories are just that – fond memories from another ‘childless’ life!

For children, adjusting to the time change can be a little tricky. When the clocks go back in October, if your baby used to waking up at 6am, they may well wake at 5am and that is a time of day you would rather not see! The key to making the transition as unnoticeable as possible is routine. Here are my top tops to ensure a pain-free bedtime for you and your little one!

tips for helping your baby adjust to the changing seasons

How to Fall Back (unharmed)!

To adjust to the clocks going backward in October my top tip is to make your baby’s bedtime in the week leading up to the change 10 minutes later each night. You will be amazed how their internal schedule adapts in just a few days.

Also try keeping their room as dark as possible. When the clocks go back, this usually results in lighter mornings and you don’t want the sunshine waking them up earlier than necessary. Blackout blinds and/or black out curtains are a great idea. If they are afraid in the dark then invest in a nightlight, as these can safely be left on during the night. Don’t turn them off after they fall asleep because if they wake in the night this can result in them feeling disoriented and upset. You need to keep their sleeping conditions constant.

Another top tip is to let your baby have a ‘lie-in’ in the lead-up to the clocks going back for 10 minutes each morning. However, this advice totally depends on the temperament of your child. If you know that leaving them to their own devices for any extra length of time will result in waking up the whole household and possibly the neighbours too, then you may want to skip this tip!

During autumn/winter you will also notice a considerable drop in temperature, which can disrupt your child’s sleep patterns. Keep an eye on the temperature in their room and make sure they are dressed appropriately at night time. A baby sleeping bag in 2.5 tog or 3.5 tog (see tog guide for more details), will help them stay cosy and ensure a peaceful night’s sleep at a constant temperature.

How to Spring Forward (but just the right amount)!

When the clocks change in Spring (usually March time), we all groan as it means losing an extra hour of our precious sleep. When the clocks go forward you may find it harder for your little one to settle at night time – they may act up or be more cranky than usual.

To try and avoid a moody infant, change their bedtime by half an hour on the first evening, then adjust by another half an hour the day the clocks go forward. This will his will allow their bodies to adjust gradually to bedtime, so there is no sudden change to their usual routine. Remember if you alter their bedtime, naps and mealtimes will need to be adjusted too. As advised above, you may wish to make this more gradual by putting them to bed 10 minutes earlier each day in the lead-up to the clocks going forward, so eventually, they are falling asleep half an hour before their usual bedtime.

In the morning open your child’s curtains or blinds so they get plenty of sunlight – this will help their body adjust to the time change and strengthen their body clock. As the evenings begin to get lighter it may be worth considering black out blinds for your little one’s windows, which will also come in very handy when the mornings get lighter too!

Another top tip is to avoid using language around light and dark to indicate bedtime. For example, saying ‘it’s dark, it’s time for bed’ in the winter will only lead to loud protests during summer months about bedtime! Instead always use the time of day, ‘it’s night time, it’s time for bed’.

Lots of my friends swear by child alarm clocks. You can set it to your desired sleep and wake times, making it easier for your child to understand and follow a sleep schedule. This is also a good idea for nap times. You may also want to try playing a set piece of music at the same time each night. This can help them to understand the time of day and predict more easily the next part of their routine.

If you do find that your child isn’t adjusting well to daylight saving, don’t fret! Just try and stick to your normal routine and get things back on track. Lots of parents find that getting out and about and keeping their child active in the morning, followed by a relaxing afternoon of activities works wonders! The key is to remain calm and be patient as the adjustment can take time. But don’t worry within a few days things will be back to normal, or as normal as parenthood can be!

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