Cheryl Fingleson Daylight Savings and a Baby's Routine Interview

Cheryl Fingleson Daylight Savings and a Baby's Routine Interview

How to Keep Your Baby's Routine (and Your Sanity) When Daylight Savings Ends

Cheryl Fingleson, The Sleep Coach, states: "Choosing April 1st as the end of daylight savings seems like a particularly bad joke to play on parents. But there are two methods that can minimise the disruption of the clocks going back an hour."

Which one you choose depends on whether you feel able to handle the change in one go or if you prefer to adjust your child's schedule slowly in the week or weeks leading up to or after the event. As always, this will depend on your child's personality - and yours.

Method 1: pretend nothing has happened

This doesn't mean putting your hands over your ears, closing your eyes and pretending it's still summer! It's even more simple than that, it means keeping going as usual.

This method works well with children who are able to adapt to staying up a little beyond their bedtime and who don't get too overtired as a result.

So, when your little one goes to bed on Saturday, change the clocks and then continue with your family's routine as usual.

The following day, keep your baby or toddler's routine the same as always: food and naps at the usual times; fresh air and sunlight to help their body adapt.

With this method children sometimes struggle to have their naps at the new, earlier time, or stay awake until their new bedtime - which will feel to them much earlier than their old one - but usually this will usually resolve itself in a few days or by the end of the week at the most.

For a few days or weeks, your little one might wake earlier in the morning and from their naps than you'd like. But they should adapt soon enough. If you need to move their naps to an earlier time, you can do so but only do it as a short term solution.

The upside of this method is that babies and children who are going to sleep and waking up later than you'd like can have their bedtimes adapted so they're now going to bed and waking earlier. For instance if they struggled to go to sleep before seven, now their body clock will hopefully help them go to sleep at the new time of six o'clock. The bonus is you will get more time to yourself in the evening!

Method 2: the slow change

For some children and parents an overnight, one-hour change in schedules is too much to cope with in one go. This is especially true for parents who may feel they've only just got their baby into a workable routine or for babies and toddlers who are particularly sensitive to a change in their usual daily schedule. This method involves a slower approach but doesn't necessarily mean more work.

Many parents tweak their baby's schedule ahead of time. This usually works in babies older than eight months but some six month olds will also manage this change. Smaller babies usually adapt more easily as their schedules aren't as set and their sleep patterns are often more unpredictable.

If your baby is already waking too early, for instance at 5am and you'd prefer her to wake at 6am, then in the weeks before the clocks changing try and move her routine ahead an hour. When the clocks go back, she will be waking at the new 5am time. Then, if you switch her schedule again by an hour after the clocks have moved, hopefully she'll begin to regularly wake at 6am. Otherwise, on the day the clocks change, instead of putting your child down for the night at 6pm (yesterday's 7pm - the time their body clock will expect to sleep), try to keep them awake for an extra half an hour to 6.30. The next day, shift everything else back half an hour, naps and meal times included. For instance if your baby usually has a nap at 1pm, push this back to 12.30pm.

However, if you do this, keep in mind that 'overtiredness' can affect their sleep. If they're really struggling, only move their bedtime by 15 minutes at a time.

After a few days - although some children take a week or longer - your baby should be back to their original schedule, that is going to sleep at 7pm.

What else to look out for when the clocks change:

1. Keep reading your baby's sleep cues. Their internal clock is more powerful than an actual clock.
2. Be flexible. The change often makes adults feel out of sorts, so young children can be especially affected by the clocks changing.
3. As we move further into autumn, it's a good time to consider whether your little one is warm enough at night. One good thing about the end of daylight savings is that the nights get longer and the mornings and evenings are darker which often helps children sleep a little longer.
4. However, be aware of the knock on effect of too much sleeping at night: their day-time naps might shorten.

Interview with Cheryl Fingleson, The Sleep Coach at

Question: How does the end of daylight savings effect a babies sleep routine?

Cheryl Fingleson: Some babies, especially very young ones, barely notice the effects of daylight savings ending. This is often the case when babies aren't in a routine yet or when they're little enough to have their routine adapted easily.

However, for others, especially older babies and toddlers, just an hours difference can make them feel very out of sorts. They might really struggle to go to sleep at their early 'new' bedtime - which is an hour earlier than their usual one. They might wake earlier - at their 'old' morning wake up time - as they're just following their internal body clock.

Question: How can parents keep their baby's routine when daylight savings ends?

Cheryl Fingleson: With a little planning, it's possible to get through the clocks going back without too much difficulty. If you feel changing your babies routine overnight will be too much all in one go then you can move it more gradually, say in 15-30 minute increments. You can begin this in the days before or on the day the clocks change.

Help this along by putting your baby down for the night half an hour earlier on Saturday evening. Adjust their feed and nap times the next day too but keep following your baby's cues - they'll let you know what they need.

Question: Why is a sleep routine, so important, to not only a new baby but their parents?

Cheryl Fingleson: When babies are newborn they won't have a routine as such but after the first few months, many babies fall into a more regular sleep and feeding cycle. This helps Mum out, especially if she's breastfeeding, as it will mean having a little more time to do other things.

It's important to introduce good sleep habits early on. At least once a day try and put your baby down for a nap when they're sleepy rather than already asleep. Make sure your baby's sleep environment is dark, cool (18-21 degrees is optimal) and calm.

Introducing sleep cues early on is also important. For instance, saying, 'Night, night, sleepy time now', as you put them down for a nap. And introducing a simple bedtime routine - a bath, feed and then lullaby or story - is a way of helping your baby wind down for their long night-time sleep.

A gentle routine helps set future healthy sleep habits which is so important no matter what your age. Having a fixed bedtime for older babies means parents get time to themselves too!

Question: What are the most common reasons babies don't sleep?

Cheryl Fingleson: It's important to remember that babies aren't designed to sleep through the night at the beginning of their lives. Parents can attempt gentle sleep shaping at four or five months, but really it's not until they're six to nine months old that they're developmentally ready to learn independent sleep skills.

A lot of babies I see have very strong nursing or feeding sleep associations. This is completely normal for very young babies, but as they get a little older it's a good idea to try and separate feeding and nursing from sleeping. When I help families, we work together to ensure this is done in a slow, gentle way.

Watch for your baby's sleep signals so you put them down for their nap when they're drowsy rather than asleep.

Some babies are very sensitive to light and sound, so make sure you use block out blinds and try and ensure their room or sleeping area is in a quiet part of your home or use white noise. Make sure they're not too hot or - as winter approaches - too cold.

Medical issues such as reflux can also have a huge effect a baby's sleep pattern. And, at this time of the year, catching a cold or another virus can impact on whether a baby gets to sleep and stays asleep easily.

Changes in routine, growth spurts, sleep crutches, medical and weaning can all affect how well a baby sleeps too.

Question: What's your best advice for new parents in regards to sleep?

Cheryl Fingleson: Remember, it will get easier! Babies have a wonderful way of getting us to easily forgive them for all those sleepless nights.

Consistency and routine is the key to helping your baby from 4 months.

Follow your instincts. You know what's best for your baby. Don't feel that you have to follow what everyone in your mother's group is doing or what the latest sleep training guide suggests. I always want to empower parents and help them feel confident with their own abilities. Mum's you are the experts on your baby!

Interview by Brooke Hunter