How to manage your child's sleep routine when the clocks go forward

Published: 17/03/2021

Top tips for managing your child’s sleep routine when the clocks change

We all know that getting your child into a comfortable bedtime routine takes time and patience, and we also know that any disruption to this schedule can affect the sleep of both parent and child, leaving you all feeling irritable and tired. 

So, with the clocks going forward an hour in the UK on the 28th of March you may be feeling apprehensive about how this change is going to affect your child and their bedtime routine. This feeling might be amplified when there has already been so much upheaval over the last year and good quality sleep is more important than ever.

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that aligns your child’s natural sleeping pattern with this clock change, but we have compiled some top tips from other parents that might just make the adjustment that little bit easier.

1.     Make small changes

Once daylight savings kick in, it can be tempting to re-adapt the entire day’s routine, making mealtimes, naps and getting ready for bed all an hour earlier but this can result in confusion and your child feeling out of sync. Instead, you can ease their body clock into the change by making small shifts of no more than 15 minutes each day to their bedtime routine leading up to when the clocks go forward. 

2.     Get outside and active

Being out in the fresh air is not only great for overall physical and mental wellbeing but outside activities also help kids to expel excess energy, leaving them ready for a restful night's sleep come the evening. A trip to your local park or a walk through the woods would be ideal, but if you'd prefer to make use of the garden, check out our list of great outdoor activities you can do at home with little ones.

3.     Maintain their wind-down routine

Keeping your child’s usual wind-down routine going even with the shift in its timing will help them recognise that they need to get ready for sleep. Each family will have a wind-down routine that works for them but things such as a warm bath and getting into pyjamas followed by milk and a story will help slow things down and bring about the feeling of calmness which is important for drifting off into a peaceful slumber.

We’d recommend avoiding using screens such as phones, tablets and TVs as part of daily bedtime preparations as they are overstimulating and undo all other efforts that promote sleepiness.

4.     Create a sleep-friendly environment 

A dark, cool, and clutter-free room is best for promoting sleep. Investing in some blackout blinds if your child’s room doesn’t already have them will help block out the extra daylight that comes as a result of the clocks going back and even if a nightlight is still used, eliminating the natural light will help your child recognise it is bedtime.

You might fret over getting the room temperature right and have concerns that your child will be cold, but there is evidence to suggest that a temperature of around 18-19°C is optimal for sleep. Our body temperature naturally fluctuates during the day, with a slight dip at night but, a room that is too hot or too cold can cause restlessness and waking up earlier than normal.

Making sure toys and other items are put away in your child’s room before bed prevents distractions and sensory stimulation which can hinder sleep. Tidying away their toys could be factored into the transition between playtime and bedtime whilst also providing a great opportunity for them to develop responsible habits and to care for their possessions.

5.     Manage your expectations

Remember that when the clocks go forward, it’s normal for there to be some regression in your child’s sleeping pattern. The change in daylight hours will affect their natural cycle so expect there to be some differences in the time they go to bed and the time that they wake up but keep in mind it is only temporary and after a few weeks, they will have adjusted to the shift.

Whilst maintaining their normal routine will provide comfort and structure, don’t sweat it if a few little bits fall by the wayside whilst you are all adapting; they’ll soon be picked back up!

If you have found these top tips helpful, then there are plenty of other great sleep-focused articles that are worth reading too such as A Parents' Ultimate Guide to Baby Sleep and Routine and Why isn't my baby sleeping? 4 questions to ask yourself as a parent.

For parents that need a little extra helping hand, myTamarin sleep experts and nannies are here to support you. Head to our online newborn support for reliable, professional guidance on getting to grips with sleep routines or what to do if you are struggling to get your baby to sleep.

Alternatively, if you are seeking at-home assistance, we can work with you to find a night nanny that meets your family’s needs.

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