On Sunday 31 October 2021 at 03:00 AM, winter time will start. For people without children this means an hour more sleep, but for people with (young) children it means that the day starts an hour earlier. A baby or toddler has its own biorhythm that is (temporarily) disturbed by the switch to wintertime. What can you do as a parent to prepare your child for wintertime?
Adjust the rhythm
Good preparation is half the battle! Give your child a chance to get used to the new rhythm of wintertime. You can choose to get used to the 'new time' a few days in advance by slightly shifting the times for eating, getting up and going to bed. You can do this 1-3 days in advance and shift the rhythm by 10 or 15 minutes per day. This means that your child's daily rhythm will be slightly later. When doing this, pay close attention to the sleep signals your child gives off and do not keep your child awake unnecessarily longer; this can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
If your child is older than 2, you can use a 'sleep trainer'; this special light alarm clock can be set a little earlier every evening so that it goes 'on' a little earlier in the morning. Children over the age of 2 can understand that they have to stay in bed until the alarm light goes on.
Create a predictable evening routine
By having the same, calm evening routine every night, you offer your child a lot of predictability which can help them get into 'sleep mode'. A fixed sequence (e.g. brushing teeth first, then wearing pyjamas and finally reading to your baby) can help your baby to fall asleep more quickly and calmly. It is good to choose quiet moments; watching a film or frolicking for a while can actually make your child active again.
Make sure there are good curtains
A practical tip is to make sure there is a good blackout blind in the bedroom where your child sleeps. Think of a roller shutter, blackout curtains or roller blinds. This keeps the room dark for a long time and your child won't wake up earlier because of the natural light.
Switch on the light and get moving!
During the winter months, it is darker in the morning for longer, so put the lights on when you get up. This will help your child's natural day and night rhythm. Getting out of the house together in the morning gives your child fresh air, daylight and exercise. This can help their biological clock adjust to the time change more quickly.