As the days get longer and the nights warmer, putting the kiddly-winks to bed is set to get a little tricker.
The beginning of daylight savings time can kick off bedtime battles – it can be super hard to get kids off to the land of nod when the sun is still shining!
We spoke to four of Australia’s leading sleep experts to get their top tips for helping babies, toddlers and preschoolers adjust to the change in time at the start of daylight savings.
Babies and daylight savings tips
Tips from Jo Ryan at BabyBliss
While moving the clock forward can cause sleep disruption for families, BabyBliss director Jo Ryan says her biggest tip is not to panic. Here are her recommendations for a smooth transition for babies:
- Put your baby to bed for the night 15 minutes earlier than you would normally. So, if your baby is going to bed at 7pm, put them down at 6.45pm.
- Keep putting them to bed 15 minutes earlier every night so that is a few nights you are putting them down an hour earlier than you would normally.
- Move the day sleeps the same way so your baby is going to bed at the same time they have been, adjusted for daylight saving.
Tips from Deb Herdman at Nigh Nigh Sleepy Head
Deb Herdman from Nigh Nigh Sleepy Head explains that babies younger than three months not producing melatonin, which is the sleep hormone, so longer light hours shouldn’t be an issue. Here are her daylight savings tips for babies between three and 12 months old:
- A darkened room is a must to stop bright light switching off the sleep hormone.
- Stick to your normal winter routine as much as possible. Recommended sleep hours for this age is 14-15 hours per 24 hours.
- In the lead-up to sleep, closing family room blinds and quiet time helps set the mood for sleep.
- Sleep music is ideal for masking higher levels of noise and activity in the household. It’s also invaluable for helping baby to relax to deeper sleep.
- It’s easy to get out of synch with sleep. One late night can cause a huge upheaval in normal sleep patterns.
- The sooner you get back to normal routines the quicker any potential problems are avoided.
Tips from Emma Purdue from Baby Sleep Consultant
Baby Sleep Consultant director Emma Purdue recommends starting time adjustments for babies in the week prior – but you can still use this transitional approach at the start of daylight savings.
- Move their naps and feed times in the week leading up to or after daylight savings by 15 minutes a day. Food and Sleep times will help entrain that circadian rhythm back to where it should be.
- Wake them up 15 minutes earlier each day if they are oversleeping after daylight savings, this will help pull them bedtime back to a more appropriate time too. If you do it in the lead-up, wake them up 15 minutes earlier each day in the four days leading up to daylight savings, this will allow you to get them to bed 15 minutes earlier each evening, so you are not left with a late bedtime when daylight savings rolls over.
- Expose them to natural sunlight first thing in the morning to help them know it’s the start of the new day.
Tips from Tara Mitchell at The Gentle Sleep Specialist
Tara Mitchell, The Gentle Sleep Specialist says generally the start of daylight savings (rather than the end) is a bit easier for babies to cope with.
“I recommend keeping close to their normal awake times however you may find it useful to make small adjustments to their time in the few days leading up to daylight savings.”
Helping toddlers adjust to daylight savings
Toddlers are beginning to assert their independence so a change in sleep routine may be met with some resistance. Consistency is key in this age group.
Top toddler tips from Jo Ryan:
- Maintain your bedtime ritual.
- Make sure the room is as dark as you can make it.
- Adjust all your mealtimes etc. so that everything is happening an hour earlier.
- If they wake early, try to keep them in their beds until it is time to get up.
- You can use some white noise all night to stop those pesky birds waking your
child up too early.
Deb Herdman from Nigh Nigh Sleepy Head says:
- Routine – keep it consistent with what you are doing now. Routine and avoiding late nights are essential.
- Easily overstimulated – keep older active children from playing with your toddler bedtime becomes closer. Any excitement will delay sleep.
- Avoid screens/TV at least one hour prior to bed. Toddlers need 12-14 hours sleep. A delay in falling asleep means fewer hours of sleep.
- Wake up time is likely to be closer to sunrise. Toddlers that wake up too early and well before daylight are often suffering sleep debt. Make sure they are in bed and settled to sleep between 7- 730pm.
- Overheating from baths and hot days/nights can interfere with the bodies sleep signals. Aim for 17-22°C
- Light and noise is your enemy – dark rooms, block sunlight, keep noise levels low.
Baby Sleep Consultant Emma Purdue recommends:
- Make sure their room has amazing blackout blinds, so they are not confused by the sun being up at 8/9pm at night, and they physiologically can get to sleep.
- Move their dinner and bedtime routine gradually in the lead-up, or after daylight savings, don’t try to do it one night, it will end in tears and frustration as no one is tired enough to sleep.
- Try a sleep trainer clock so they know when morning time is. You will have to adjust morning wake up in small 15-20 minute increments. As much as a toddler sleep in is nice, allowing this to continue will make going to bed at the normal time impossible.
Getting preschoolers to bed during daylight savings
At this age, kids may find it a little tougher to adjust, particularly when they notice the birds are still singing and the sun is still up as you tuck them into bed!
Jo Ryan from BabyBliss recommends:
- Adjusting their bedtime to the new time but keeping things as they have been.
- Don’t let your child stay up too late, just keep edging bedtime earlier each night.
- Make sure you continue with your bedtime routine – don’t let it slip.
- Try and have the room as dark as can be and ask them to not get up before the
sun comes up.
Deb Herdman from Nigh Nigh Sleepy Head suggests:
- A dark room, low noise and masking other household sounds and good room temperature.
- Be consistent and make sure it is clear to them that sleep times happen at a particular time, and isn’t related to the sun. A toddler sleep clock may be helpful.
- 11-13 hours sleep for this age. As with all ages inadequate sleep results in sleep debt and later night settling, more waking and waking early.
- As with toddlers overexcitement and stimulation will delay sleep.
- Keep late nights to a limit. This age group should adapt better to sleep disruption than younger ages.
- Daytime sleep might be less frequent or stopped. Bedtimes between 7-8 pm are recommended to avoid sleep debt.
Baby Sleep Consultant Emma Purdue’s top tips for preschoolers:
- Pre-schoolers are more likely to still have to be at pre-school by 8.30am Monday morning (unless they are still on school holidays). So I would encourage parents to adjust the week before daylight savings, or at least the weekend before. You need to start with waking them earlier before you can try getting them to bed sooner.
- Bring your pre-schoolers inside for a good wind-down routine 60-90 minutes before you want them to be asleep, and avoid screens in this time. They also will need great blackout blind.
- It takes time for their internal clocks to adjust so be patient, but also don’t get pulled into bedtime games and antics when you have moved their bedtime by 15 minutes. Create clear boundaries and positive sleep routines, your preschooler hasn’t forgotten how to sleep, they just need time to adjust.
The Gentle Sleep Specialist, Tara Mitchell says you’ll need to give kids about seven to 10 days to adjust to their new time changes.
Don’t forget to put your clocks forward on Sunday October 3, 2021 if you live in Victoria, the ACT, NSW, SA and Tasmania – most smartphones, will update automatically so don’t be caught out.
For those of you in Queensland, the NT and WA – it’s business as usual.
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