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The clocks change twice a year in the UK to account for Daylight Saving Time. At the end of October, always on a Sunday, we put our clocks back one hour which signals the end of Daylight Saving Time. At the end of March, always on a Sunday, we put our clocks forward one hour which signals the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. By doing so, we have more light in the evenings and less in the mornings.
Typically Daylight Saving Time benefits retailers, tourism, saves energy and sporting events. Those who have historically been opposed to the concept include many involved in agriculture and those linked to types of evening entertainment.
But what effect does the clocks changing have on you and your babies and/or toddlers?
Well, if your baby is a newborn, he or she may have absolutely no concept of the clocks changing. If you are still being woken every 3 hours for a feed and change then you’ll hardly notice the difference. Your baby won’t give you an extra hour in bed, or go to sleep an hour earlier, as the only clock she cares about is her internal body clock which is often hungry.
But if you have a baby or toddler who is already well established in a routine, here are some dos and don’ts that can ease the transition into the new timetable as smoothly as possible.
- Don’t alter your baby’s daytime naps – although it may seem like a wise idea to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’, it’s not a good idea to try and reduce your baby’s daytime naps in an attempt to get him or her to go to bed earlier at night. What is likely to happen if you attempt this is that your baby will be extra tired, extra cranky and may find it harder to go to sleep than usual.
- Gradually change bedtime by 10 minutes each day – find out when the clocks are changing and plan ahead. Give yourself about a week and gradually attempt to add 10 minutes or take 10 minutes off your baby’s bedtime. Your baby is unlikely to notice this as much as they’d notice a whole hour. If you do this every day for a week (give or take a day), then you’ll have gradually changed their bedtime without them noticing.
- Wake your baby early – if at the end of March, you find that your baby or toddler is sleeping in longer in the mornings, then you can do something about this. Wake your baby or toddler up. So long as you have breakfast or milk ready, then your baby is unlikely to notice too much. After a few mornings of being woken up, baby will soon get into the swing of the new routine.
- Re-settle your baby – if your baby is waking early at the end of October when the clocks have been put back, then don’t give up. Attend to your baby as promptly as normal, but instead of turning the lights on and being bright and breezy with your baby, instead try and re-settle your baby. If he or she needs some milk, then certainly feed your baby, but then with as little interaction as possible, try and resettle your baby back to bed and then wake your baby at the new wake-up time.
If all else fails, there’s only half a year until the clocks change back and your baby will be back in an ideal routine once again!