I’m not sure that I’ve ever woken up looking this refreshed but the clocks changing this Sunday means that the nation will get a glorious extra hour in bed. That is unless you have kids.
Newborn and very young babies will probably glide through the clocks changing without much notice. Their sleep is still very immature and their sleep follows little pattern. It could be 2am or 2pm but it makes no difference to them.
Around the age of 4 months your baby’s circadian rhythm starts to mature and they produce their own sleepy and wakeful hormones. You may find that from around 4 months of age your baby starts to sleep and feed and regular-ish times. Circadian Rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits and digestion. This is why we experience jet lag when we travel to a country on a different time zone. Our internal body clock and the environmental clock are sending us conflicting messages.
Whilst a one hour time change will have very little impact on us adults. It may leave our babies feeling a little jet lagged.
Slow and Steady wins the race!
Gradually move your baby’s bedtime later by 10-15 minutes every few days. This gentle adjustment should stop them from getting overtired and hopefully prevent them from waking at 5am on Sunday morning!
Keep the bedtime routine consistent
Let your baby know its bedtime with a consistent routine. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or long. Just a way to signal to your baby that it is now time for bed. An optimal length for a bedtime routine is around 15-30 minutes. Any shorter and your baby may not have time to wind down and any longer and your baby may become overtired. A bath, massage and short story are a good start.
Get as much light exposure as possible during the day
Light and most importantly sunlight helps to set our circadian rhythm. Exposing your baby to as much natural light during the day will send signals to their brain that it is day time and time to be awake. If you baby is mobile letting them get exercise during the day will also send ‘awake time’ messages. If your baby regularly wakes at 5am exposing them to an hour of sunlight at around 3pm can help adjust their body clock.
Keep night time dark
This is much easier in the winter but keeping your baby’s room dark overnight and not exposing them to too many bright lights before bed sends the signals to your baby’s brain that it is now night time. Darkness stimulates humans to produce a hormone called melatonin which helps us to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Bright lights just before bedtime can inhibit this. If you find light creeping into your baby’s room in the early morning it could be worthwhile to invest in a blackout blind.
Unfortunately I don’t mean for you! Massaging your baby can help them to relax and settle into a deeper sleep. Nearly everything your baby experiences every day is new and exciting and it can be hard to process all of this new information. Taking some time time out to connect with your baby through massage can help you to both unwind, release tension and hopefully sleep better.
If your baby does wake at 5am try not to worry. Their body clock will adjust to the new time change in time. As a mum of 2 I understand that sometimes we can do everything to try and encourage something and our baby will just do what they want to do.
Grab a large cup of coffee and a nap where you can and things should settle down.