Adapting to the hour change can seem to be quite a challenge for some parents and many worry about how they are going to get their little ones to adjust to it!
However, it doesn’t need to be too much of an issue if you follow and implement the following advice:
If your baby is already sleeping through the night and achieving a full 12 hour stretch from 7pm to 7am, 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 – adopt to the local / new time as soon as possible!
In March the clocks go forward so we lose an hour’s sleep and it’s best to set your alarm and wake up your baby at 7am meaning he will have lost an hour’s sleep. Keep on track with your set schedule for the rest of the day adhering to the new time – not the time that it was before the hour change, and implement bedtime accordingly. Any negative effect of this on your baby should soon disappear and though he may be more tired that first day, within a couple of days all should be back to normal and his body clock will have reset itself.
In the Autumn, when the clocks go back an hour and we gain an extra hour throughout the night, you need to implement the opposite of above and 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 7am. Of course, if he’s used to waking at 7am he won’t know that the clocks have changed and will still wake at his usual time, which will be 6am 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 7am 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.
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 adopt 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 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 being awake and feeding. It therefore makes it a much easier process to adapt to time changes.
For babies under 3 months who are still having night time feeds it’s simple enough 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.