8 ways to prepare your baby for when the clocks go back

baby sleep

by Bryony Firth-Bernard |

In case you'd forgotten (don't worry, we did too), the clocks are going back (Sunday 31 October 2021 at 2am) because of daylight savings.

Father and Olympic diver Tom Daley has shared his top tips and tricks on creating and maintaining a bedtime routine in line with the approaching lighter mornings and darker evenings.

As an athlete, Tom has always been familiar with implementing a routine, but never more so than now, "As a parent I have realized the importance of routines and structure, because our son Robbie absolutely loves the fact that he knows his routine, he knows what structure he has in his life and especially when it comes to bedtime."

Tom Daley's golden rules for getting your child to sleep better:

  1. Make sure you’re nice and prepared ahead of bedtime, ensure the room is dark and you have everything you need lined up

  2. Always read your child the same book last, so they know that this is the ‘bedtime book’

  3. Sing the same song every night (for us it’s Twinkle Twinkle)

  4. Encourage independence

  5. Get a routine nailed down as a quickly as possible, the sooner and earlier you get a bedtime routine in place, the sooner baby will be able to sleep through the night.

Read more: Best baby sleep sprays to help little ones drift off

8 brilliant baby sleep tips

We chatted to sleep coach Dave Gibson, founder of the sleepsite.co.uk, who specialises in providing lifestyle advice and hypnotherapy for families and children with sleep problems. Here are his 7 brilliant baby sleep tips if you're worried the clock change will affect your baby's bedtime and sleep routine...

baby tummy time ideas

1. Make changes gradually

Many parents have found success changing bedtime over the course of two weeks, a week, or a weekend, depending on the age and temperament of your little one. 'For young children, it's often easiest to change the bedtime in 15 minute increments over a long weekend,' says Dave. 'If there is an adjustment, then it won't interfere with waking up for nursery.'

2. Tire them out

'Plan days with heavy activity, particularly physical activity, for the days on which you are putting the bedtime earlier,' says Dave. 'Naps will be easier to move back, too, when children are more tired.'

3. Have a bedtime wind down

During the transition, at night dim the lights and close the curtains a half-hour or an hour before bedtime to encourage a sense that bedtime is coming. 'Be sure that the windows have black-out shades as evenings stay lighter later,' says Dave.

4. Adjust other activities

Over the days you change bedtime, be sure to also change bath time, nap time and meal times. 'If the bedtime changes are gradual - say, 10 minutes over 6 days - then change the other activities by 10 minutes as well,' says Dave.

dad and son sleeping

5. Practice what you preach

'Be sure to adjust your own schedule in the same way you change your children's,' says Dave. It will make the routine move more easily for everyone.

nap time

6. Altering waking time

Make sure your adjust your baby’s routine to suit the new time change. ‘Don't let them oversleep in the morning or over compensate at nap time for an early start, otherwise it will carry on to the next day,’ adds Dave.

7. Eat right for sleep

Always be careful with what your child eats close to bedtime. 'Milk contains tryptophan which increases the amount of serotonin a natural sedative,' says Dave. 'A banana with milk provides vitamin B6 which helps convert the tryptophan to serotonin. Another fruit to consider is cherries which contain melatonin which the body produces to regulate sleep.' Remember, any disruption to your baby or toddler's body clock tends to be temporary. Most children get back on schedule within three days.

8. Keep them cosy

Temperatures will drop as we head further into the autumn and winter months, which could lead to disrupted sleep for your baby (and you). Make sure that they're kept warm and cosy to ensure a peaceful night's sleep.

Read more: Baby winter clothes: How to dress your baby in cold weather

Follow a familiar pattern

A good night’s sleep is so important to the overall health, cognitive ability and the mood of your little one—as well as the happiness of the whole family. So, find a routine that works for your child and stick to it. You may find using the same bedtime products, with particular smells helps to calm your baby and instill that it is time to wind down to go to sleep.

This is an easy 3-step routine, set out by Johnson's, which will help relax your little one ready for bed:

Step 1: Warm Bath: Bath time is the perfect, relaxing way to start baby’s pre-bed routine. Use a baby wash with a calming and familiar scent.

Step 2: Gentle Massage: Follow bath time with a soothing baby massage, the perfect way to make baby feel secure, loved and ready for sleep. Use a baby lotion with a relaxing scent, to soothe before bed.

Step 3: Quiet Time: Finally, send little one off into the land of nod with a little quiet time. Keep the atmosphere calm and cozy and help baby wind down further by reading, singing or playing a lullaby.

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