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Daylight savings - how to best prepare your child when the clock changes forward?

Spring is here, yay! In Europe, we will be changing our clocks 1 hour forward on Sunday 31 March 2024. Some babies and children take it well, and others need some more time to adjust. You can compare it with a jetlag.

How to best prepare your baby/child for daylight savings? 

If your child finds it difficult to fall asleep after the change of clocks, then you can gradually move into the new ‘timezone’ with one of the methods below and take a bit more time for your soothing bedtime routine to help your child unwind and prepare for sleep. 

Below you will find two methods - simply choose the one that resonates most with you. 

Petra - Gentle Sleep Coach - help you prepare your child for daylight savings. She is ready for spring and holding a vase with colorful tulips.
Ready for springtime and daylight savings

METHOD 1 - Do nothing. You can let nature do its work. 

On Sunday you will notice that your child will most likely wake up later than usual due to the change of clocks. If your little one had an average wake-up time at 06:30 am, he/she may wake up around 07:30 on Sunday instead. Nice, enjoy a lazy start! 🎉

From Sunday onwards, you can follow your regular family schedule for sleeping and eating in the “new time”. Your little one may be a little jetlagged and maybe not ready for his/her nap or bedtime. If it takes a bit longer to fall asleep, then this is okay as you will be taking them to bed an hour earlier in the “old wintertime”. (7:30 PM new time = 6:30 PM ‘old time”).

Are you still following? It’s always a bit confusing isn’t it?! 😆

I do recommend you to follow the new times from Sunday 30th of March and you will see that your child will adjust to the new daylight savings time within 3-4 days.

This method works well for kids who are great sleepers or 4 years or older.

METHOD 2: Prepare your baby or child gradually for the change of clocks.

You can start 1-2 days before, or you can wait until Sunday and enjoy a later wake-up time :) Up to you.

Option 1: 1-2 days before the clock changes you take your child to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual. The next morning, you will want to wake him/her up 30 minutes earlier as well. You offer the nap and the bedtime also 30 minutes earlier, and you repeat this for the second night and day as well. On Sunday you follow the new clock. Try to be less active and dim the lights at least one hour before bedtime.

Option 2: you can also prepare your child with 15-20 min change per day before the change of clocks. For example Friday you bring your child 20 minutes earlier to bed than usual, on Saturday 40 minutes earlier, and on Sunday, you use the new daylight savings time.

Remember to move the naps and meal times with 15-20 minutes on Friday and Saturday as well.

Option 3: Enjoy your morning lay-in on Sunday and adjust during the following days. If your schedule looked something like this: 7 am wake up, 1 pm nap, 7 pm bedtime, then you can gradually move things up with 15 minutes each day.

Saturday: 7 am wake up / 1 ppm nap / 7 pm bedtime

Sunday (new times): 8 am wake up / 2 pm nap / 8 pm bedtime

Monday: 7:45 am wake up / 1:45 pm nap / 7:45 pm bedtime

Tuesday: 7:30 am wake up / 1:30 pm nap / 7:30 pm bedtime

Wednesday: 7:15 am wake up / 1:15 pm nap / 7:15 pm bedtime

Thursday 7 am wake up / 1 pm nap / 7 pm bedtime

Lots of natural light

Regardless of the method you choose, start your day with lots of natural light. Exposure to natural light and outdoor activities (go for a walk, outdoor play, etc) will stimulate the circadian rhythm - the natural body clock - and regulate the hormone melatonin.

A dark bedroom

Check your child’s bedroom and make it as dark as possible. You can use darkening curtains, or if you don't have these (yet), use black bin bags to prevent light from coming into the room.

Soothing bedtime routine

Take a bit of extra time for your soothing bedtime routine to help your baby prepare to go to sleep. Talk to your your child about their day and/or read an extra book for example. 

Be kind to yourself and your child, and embrace the change

No matter how prepared you may be, sometimes change can be a bit harder than expected. It may take a few days or a week to adjust fully and that’s okay too.

Remember: every family does it slightly differently and there is no right or wrong. 

Tell me, which method do you prefer? 

Also if you have any questions, let me know 🤍

If your little one is not sleeping well, you are struggling and want to know more about my services and support - lets chat. Get in touch with me or book a free 30-minute intake call (online).

xoxo Petra


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