Twice a year, the hour change on the clock can be quite a challenging time for some parents and many worry about how they are going to get the little ones to adapt.
However many parents over the years, have told me that it oddly seemed to help reinforce a better sleep pattern and their babies actually slept better! I’m certain that this is more true of the hour change in the autumn, as it will be this Saturday. The baby’s natural sleep patterns and body clock do actually seem to be more suited to the darker evenings promoted by the daylight saving mode from autumn through to spring.
So let’s hope this is true for you and your little one, but here’s some advice to implement and follow if you do experience problems.
If your baby is already sleeping through the night and achieving a full 11/12 hour stretch, then it’s usually quite straight forward to incorporate the hour change without too much disruption. The rule here is the same when travelling through time zones — adapt to the local/new time as soon as possible!
As the clocks go back we gain an extra hour throughout the night and although some babies will do a 13 hour night it’s not expected! So you need to leave your baby in bed for as long as you can in the morning and get him up as close to the normal getting up time at 7 am. Of course, if he’s used to waking at 7 am he won’t know that the clocks have changed and will still wake at his usual time, which will be 6 am on the new timing. However, by leaving him in bed — even though it’s likely he’s awake — and not getting him up until close to 7 am on the new time and carrying on with your normal daily schedule, his body clock, within a matter of days will have adjusted itself and accept the new time fairly easily. It should be fairly easy for the baby’s system to adapt and by giving the feeds at the altered time according to the hour change will help massively.
Some people advise to try and adjust to the hour change by altering bedtime and putting baby to bed either earlier or later depending on which way the hour is changing, but I have generally found it much more effective to adapt to the new time by using the start of the day as above rather than bedtime.
Of course, if your baby at 3 months or older, is not yet sleeping through the night then I would advise the use of the reassurance sleep training technique as detailed in my book The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan.
When a baby is properly sleeping through the night it’s much easier to alter his body clock whether it be to accommodate the hour change or due to time zone travel, by extending or shortening either his 12 hour day or his 12 hour night. His system is naturally programmed to understand that night time is for sleeping and daytime is for feeding and it, therefore, makes it a much easier process to adapt to time changes.
For babies still having night time feeds and are under 3 months it’s quite easy to adapt to the change and just ‘soak up’ the extra hour within the first day by switching to the new timing and resetting your daily schedule accordingly.