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The 3 ways to help your baby adjust when clocks go back

Sleep-deprived Britons are looking forward to an extra hour in bed when the clocks go back this weekend.

But new parents across the country are too busy worrying about how the change will affect their baby’s routine. 

Child sleep expert Lucy Wolfe, of Cork, Ireland, has revealed three different approaches parents can take to help adjust their little one’s sleeping patterns. 

The mother-of-four, author of The Baby Sleep Solution, explained how parents can either make gradual shifts over the days leading up to the clocks going back at 2am on Sunday morning, or try an immediate change on the day.

 Regardless of the chosen strategy, Lucy warned it can take up to a week for a baby to adjust to its new routine.

Here, she shares her top three approaches with FEMAIL… 

Disruption: Babies and toddlers might struggle to adjust once the clocks go back. File image

Do nothing

The most drastic approach will see parents and children immediately following the time once the clock changes. 

Lucy explained: ‘If your child historically wakes at 7am and goes to bed around 7pm, the day the clock changes it will say 6am, but it is no different to the day before. 

‘Stick to the same schedule and put him to bed when the clock says 7pm but that will really be 8pm.’

This will be best suited to babies and toddlers who are not sensitive to being over-tired or are highly adaptable in their routine. 

‘They adjust within a few days and re-settle into the same schedule they have been on previous to the change,’ Lucy added. 

Sleeping soundly: The approach will depend on how well their baby adapts to change

Sleeping soundly: The approach will depend on how well their baby adapts to change

Gradual shift 

The second option is to slowly change your child’s schedule over the course of a few days before the time change. This will be a handy strategy for parents whose little ones take longer to fall into a new routine. 

Four child sleep tips 

The time change can have a more significant impact on children who are not well-rested, resulting in crankiness, early morning waking, night waking and short naps

Continue to pay attention to your child’s tired signals and act accordingly. Be unafraid of an earlier bedtime if necessary

Ensure that the room is dark enough at both bed-time and on wake-up and also for naps. You may need to use black out blinds if you are not already

Have a consistent response if they are struggling to sleep and avoid ingraining inappropriate sleeping habits that you may need to address in the future.

For example today, four days before the time change, parents can try putting their child together 15 minutes than normal in the hope he or she wakes up 15 minutes later than normal. Ensure to shift the nap times accordingly too.  

Lucy continued: ‘For the next few days put him to bed 15 minutes later each night until the night of the time change and you will be back to your normal timetable and no further adjustment are required.’ 

Try it and see

A mixture between the first two approaches, this sees parents keeping the normal schedule up until the time of the change and then being flexible once it comes into effect. In other words, wait and see how much change the child can handle. 

Lucy said: ‘I often find that splitting the difference between the “old” time and the “new” time works well; on the first night they would go to bed at 7pm and this would have been 7.30pm on the day before, so 30 minutes beyond their typical bedtime and then adjust the rest of schedule accordingly.’


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