10 Top Tips to Prepare Young Children for the Winter Clock Change
Get an extra hour in bed when the clocks change with these top tips for youngsters from Heidi Skudder, The Parent & Baby Coach
Top tip: If you’re worried about the effect of the clocks change on your children – Start to prepare three days before
Photo caption: The Parent & Baby Coach, Heidi Skudder
With winter fast approaching, The Parent and Baby Coach, Heidi Skudder – who has worked with TV Presenter Stacey Solomon and her son Rex – has shared her, 10 top tips for parents and carers to help young children get ready for the winter clock change, at the end of this month.
On Sunday, October 25th, the clocks will go backwards and time will change from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. This takes place at 2am and will give those in the UK an extra hour in bed.
Although this allows us some more light in the evenings as winter draws in and the days get shorter, moving the clock forward one hour in the spring and back one hour in the autumn doesn’t just affect your schedule — it can throw off your body’s internal clock, too, including those of young children and babies.
“For many people, including young children, losing an extra hour can make a huge impact,” says baby sleep consultant, The Parent and Baby Coach, Heidi Skudder. “But, although our sleep pattern will be disturbed and we will wake up to our clocks and watches out of sync, it doesn’t mean our tiredness and body clocks need to follow suit.”
Heidi added, “Adjusting to the time change is different for all young children and babies. Some young children will adjust in a few days; for others, it takes more time.”
To support parents and carers as they help their young children to adjust, Heidi offers these tips for dealing with the time change:
Tip 1: Slowly move bedtime forward
Start to prepare your child’s body clock by slowly moving nap times and bedtime forward by 15 minutes, starting three days before the clocks go back (on the Thursday night). This means that come bedtime on the Sunday night, they will be going to bed an hour later than usual, which minus the hour time difference will be their normal bedtime. For example, if you are on a 7am – 7pm routine, on Thursday do bedtime at 7.15pm, Friday 7.30pm and so on. This will mean that Sunday’s 8pm bedtime, will actually be 7pm once adjusted to the winter time clock.
Tip 2: Move meal times
Meal times are important for little ones, and their bodies can notice even the smallest difference in timings when it comes to being hungry. Also adjusting your meal times and milk feeds over those days will help your child’s internal biological systems make the necessary adjustments needed.
Tip 3: Have a bedtime routine
If you haven’t got one already, ensure that your little person has a bedtime routine that is the same each evening; this might be something as simple as a bath, massage, into Pj’s for a feed, then stories and bed. Toddlers and babies love the consistency of a routine as it helps create a sense of calm surrounding bedtime, making it more likely that they will settle to sleep well. Staying consistent with the amount of sleep your child get each night helps, too — and that includes weekends. Encouraging them to sleep in on weekends may sound like a good idea, but it can disrupt their sleep cycle.
Tip 4: Stow away electronics
The sleep hormone melatonin will restrict production if the body is exposed to blue light at the wrong times of day or during the night. To make bedtime easier, try and have no screen time at least an hour before bedtime, this includes phones too and can be replaced by stories of calm bedtime activities to help your little person to wind down.
Tip 5: Get the temperature right
Temperature is important, particularly as the winter nights draw close. The clock change often signifies a change in weather and season, so ensuring your child is wearing appropriate night wear will help reduce the likelihood of them waking too warm or cold during the night time.
Tip 6: Create the perfect sleep environment
I’m a big fan of creating a Zen home, which is making use of natural materials, patterns of light and space and a near-monastic rejection of clutter. Try and create a Zen environment, which is a good practice anyway regardless of a clock change, for your child post bath, which means that toys are away, voices are kept low and quiet and there is no shouting or running around. Easier said than done with a toddler but promoting this sort of environment will help him/ her drop off into the land of nod.
Tip 7: Get creative
If your toddler is heading into the bedtime resistance stage, be creative with ways to deal with this – role play works really well. “Let’s march upstairs like soldiers!” is far more exciting than, “it’s time for bed” and will gain your child’s interest, making them more likely to want to go to upstairs to begin bedtime.
Tip 8: Story time is important
Story time is a great way to create a strong bond between you and your little person and can increase speech development too from a very early age. Reading to even a small baby is important and helps keep them awake after their feed too – therefore breaking the association of feeding to sleep which can for some cause night time waking problems.
Tip 9: Choose your story carefully
Ever thought about the story you pick being linked to how well your child settles? An overactive story with too much going on might stimulate the brain of a child who gets particularly overexcited and is best read during the day. Choose a calm bedtime story and think about the voice you are reading it in. A soft “tinkerbell” voice will induce your child into the land of sleep much more than a “incredible hulk” will!
Tip 10: Try not to worry
Finally, stay calm and try not to worry about the clock change – if you are a parent who already deals with night wakings and an unpredictable sleeper, you may feel anxious in the run up to this happening, but rest assured that your baby/child is very capable of dealing with this shift and the calmer you stay as a parent, the more contented your little one will be about the changes.
For more information about The Parent & Baby Coach see: www.theparentandbabycoach.com
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About The Parent & Baby Coach
The Parent & Baby Coach was founded in 2011 by Heidi Skudder to empower and support parents by providing advice on baby sleep, reflux, feeding and behaviour. Over the last decade The Parent & Baby Coach has helped over 2,000 families from as far afield as Zambia and the USA. Heidi works one to one with many parents, often over the phone or by visiting their homes, and also has a range of online courses which give parents the support and advice they need on key parenting areas without even needing to leave their homes.