How to Help Your Baby Cope With the Clock Change

The clocks are turning back, so here’s how to make sure you and your baby are coping with the clock change.

The clocks are going back at the end of this week, marking much longer nights and the official end of British Summer Time. The clocks will roll back 1 hour at 2am on the last Sunday in October (31st October this year). And, although we’ll all be getting one more hour in bed, those tending to babies and toddlers may find your best laid routines thrown out the window when the clocks change.

We’ve called in the experts who have come up with some top tips to help you and your little ones cope with the clock change. From adjusting their sleeping routine to thinking carefully about what you’re feeding your baby, here’s how you can make the transition as easy as possible.

Top Tips for Coping With the Clock Change

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Credit: iStock

Tweak Their Bedtime Now

The sleep experts at MattressNextDay suggest gradually tweaking your child’s bedtime now for a smooth transition come Sunday 31st – much simpler than trying to do it on the night before the clocks go back. Start as soon as you can, moving their bedtime back by 10 minutes per day.

Leave The Clocks Alone

Judy Clark, a certified infant and child sleep consultant and founder of BabyWinkz, also suggests using the ‘split the difference’ routine for a smooth transition. On the Saturday night before the change, make sure the clocks are left alone. Stick to your usual morning routine and get up at the same time. Only change the clocks after breakfast – this will lessen the impact of the change.

Stick to Normal Nap Times

Stick to your baby’s normal nap schedule but adjust it by 30 minutes for the first three days. Half an hour won’t make too much difference and allows your baby to adjust to the new time slowly rather than all at once. An hour is a lot for young children.

Cut Down Screen Time

Blue light, the light emitted on tablets and phones, trick our minds into thinking it’s daytime, despite the darkness outside. Being sure to place these devices out of your toddler’s sight is essential for calm sleep – be sure to remove them two to three hours before their bedtime.

Head Outdoors

The week before the clock change, head outside as much as possible. Being outside not only increases your child’s vitamin D intake, which boosts their serotonin, but it also helps them to sleep better at night. The more they move, the more they should sleep!

Warm Baths Before Bed

There is real science behind this popular method of promoting sleep. Our body temperatures are lowest at night when we are asleep, and taking a warm bath – while it may seem counterintuitive – causes a drop in body temperature. Bathing your little one 1 to 2 hours before bedtime will get their body temperature down and begin thinking it’s already asleep.

Moreover, you should follow a daily schedule of pre-bedtime activities. For example, after bathing, you could go straight to the bedroom where the lights should be dimmed – it’s also recommended to close the curtains 30 minutes before bedtime.

Don’t forget to praise your toddler

Praising your child improves their self-esteem, motivation and perseverance. So, if you give specific phrases referring to the successful night of sleeping, the more memorable it will be for them and, therefore, they’re more likely to repeat the behaviour.

How to Manage Mealtimes When the Clocks Change

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Credit: Derek Owens via Unsplash

Just as adjusting your baby to their new nap times is essential, slowly altering their feeding and milk times is also very important. Alice Fotheringham, Head of Nutrition at Piccolo, has created some simple feeding guidelines and easy tips to help prepare your baby for the clock change.

“When you begin to shift their bedtime back in advance of the clock change, make sure you adjust their entire routine accordingly,” Alice explains.

“Ten minutes extra playtime should also equal a ten minute later lunch. It’s important for parents to remember that their babies will likely be hungrier earlier, so have things on-hand and prepared that you can give them straight away as they wake up.”

The Best Bedtime Snacks for When the Clocks Go Forward or Back

The sleep experts at MattressNextDay also state that specific foods at bedtime contribute to whether children have a good or bad night’s sleep. Opt for things like oat biscuits, bananas and milk that contain an amino acid called tryptophan, contributing to feelings of drowsiness and making it more more likely that your child will fall asleep.

Alice Fotheringham adds: “Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is commonly believed to cause drowsiness when our bodies successfully convert it to serotonin, known to regulate sleep cycles and stabilise mood.”

Bananas are a great source of vital Vitamin B6, which helps our bodies convert tryptophan to serotonin, a natural sedative.

Altering Mealtimes

Making the below adjustments to your baby’s timetable might just do the trick in helping them settle in to a new routine ahead of the clock change.

Breakfast – 15 mins earlier

Lunch – 35 mins earlier

Dinner – 60 mins earlier

Foods to Boost Melatonin

Cherries are a fantastic source of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. It is often taken by adults in supplement form to help with jet-lag recovery, but let your baby try something a little more delicious. Piccolo’s ‘Apple and Cherry with Wholegrain Oats’ pouch will get them back in routine in no time.

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