At last daylight saving has begun! More daylight at the end of the day, coupled with warmer weather means the opportunity for later outdoor play, evening walks, a bit more gardening. But for families with toddlers and young children, it can also make bedtime a bit more challenging as parents battle with a little one who doesn’t want to sleep yet because the sun hasn’t gone to bed. Even parents of babies who are too young to know whether it’s dark might find baby just won’t settle at the usual time. Take a deep breath and remember your baby is probably still ready for bed at the same time – we’ve just changed that time by moving time forward by an hour, so an eight o’clock bedtime might now be nine.
Try bringing bedtime forward gradually, in 10 or fifteen minute intervals every few days or so. It might take a little while but many parents find within a few weeks the family has settled back down, or adjusted to a new routine.
Do you have a bedtime ritual? Following a similar pattern in the lead-up to bedtime helps your little one know that it is time to go to sleep. Rituals can be adapted to suit your baby or toddler and your family, and will change somewhat as your child’s needs change.
Talk to older toddlers and preschoolers about the time. Show them what the clock looks like when it’s time for bed, or relate bedtime to another activity – after dinner we have a bath, put on our pjs, read stories and then go to sleep.
You might even decide that a later bedtime is a positive thing – many working parents enjoy extra time together as a family. And one of the best bonuses of a later bedtime can be a later morning wake-up – a blessing if you have a child who’s on the go before 6am!
Rachel is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI) and has undertaken training in infant sleep, child development and nutrition. She is also an accredited provider of primary care Triple P (positive parenting program) and volunteers with the Australian Breastfeeding Association.