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  • Writer's pictureMarine Lienard

Helping little ones adapt to daylight saving time: Tips for parents in the UK

Every year, as the seasons shift and the days grow shorter, the clocks change. In the UK, we experience two clock changes a year, as we transition between Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and British Summer Time (BST). The arrival of spring means moving our clocks forward by one hour, while autumn requires setting them back. As adults, we can usually adapt to this change with little trouble, but for little ones, it can disrupt their sleep patterns and daily routines. Fortunately, there are several strategies parents can employ to help their children adjust to the clock change more smoothly.

A clock for your little ones

1. Gradual adjustments

One of the best ways to prepare your child for the clock change is to gradually adjust their schedule. In the week leading up to the change, shift your child's bedtime, naptime, and meal times by 15 minutes earlier or later each day, depending on the direction of the clock change. This gradual approach can help your child's internal body clock adapt more easily.

2. Stick to a consistent routine

Consistency is key when it comes to helping children adapt to changes. Maintain a steady daily routine that includes regular mealtimes, playtimes, and bedtime rituals. This will provide a sense of security and predictability that can be comforting during times of change.

3. Darken the bedroom

The arrival of British Summer Time in the spring can mean brighter evenings, which might make it more challenging for children to fall asleep. Consider using blackout curtains in your child's bedroom to create a darker, sleep-conducive environment. These curtains can help signal to your child that it's bedtime, even if the sun is still shining outside.

4. Create a relaxing bedtime routine

Establishing a calming bedtime routine is essential. Reading a bedtime story, giving your child a warm bath, or engaging in other soothing activities before bedtime can help signal that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

5. Be patient and flexible

Expect some disruptions during the adjustment period. Your child might have difficulty falling asleep or waking up earlier than usual. Be patient and understanding, and try to soothe any nighttime awakenings with a gentle touch or comforting words. It may take a week or two for your child's internal clock to fully adapt.

6. Limit exposure to screens

The light emitted by screens, such as TVs, tablets, and smartphones, can interfere with sleep. To help your child adjust to the new bedtime, limit screen time at least an hour before bed. Instead, engage in quiet, calming activities.

7. Maintain a positive attitude

Children often take cues from their parents. If you approach the clock change with a positive attitude, your child is more likely to follow suit. Emphasise the benefits of the clock change, such as longer evenings and more time for outdoor activities.

8. Provide a comfort object

For younger children, a comforting stuffed animal or blanket can be a source of reassurance during times of change. Encourage your child to bring their special comfort object to bed to help ease the transition.

9. Monitor your child's needs

Every child is different, and some may require more time to adjust than others. Keep an eye on your child's sleep patterns and behaviour, and be prepared to make further adjustments to their routine as needed.

Helping little ones adapt to the change of clocks in the UK requires patience, consistency, and a nurturing approach.

Marine, mother and founder of St Pancras Recruitment


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