It’s that time of year again. There’s a nip in the air, the nights are getting chillier, and the clocks go back. All things that can throw your hard-won sleep schedule right out of that frosted-up window!

Baby

However, there is research that shows that babies actually sleep longer and better in cooler temperatures. Maybe because our body temperatures are naturally programmed to drop at night, so sleep comes more easily as it gets colder.

And with a little planning, there’s a lot you can do to smooth the way from one season to the next. While Mother Nature slumbers, here are a few tips to make sure your munchkin does, too.

1. Be ready for the time change

When that Sunday in October rolls around, and the clocks roll back an hour, most grown-ups will rejoice in an extra hour in bed. But maybe not parents of small babies! If your munchkin normally wakes at 6am they’re now going to be raring to go and ready for action at a far less friendly 5am!

So here’s our stealth strategy for sound sleeping for all:

  • Move bedtime forward by 10 minutes a day, every night for the six nights before the clocks change. It’ll give your little one a chance to adjust gradually to the wintertime change.
  • And give them a 10-minute lie in next day – unless they loudly let you know that is simply not on!
  • Likewise, move dinner time forward by 10 minutes a day, to keep everything in sync with the new bedtime.
  • Keep their room as dark as possible, so that little ray of winter sunshine can’t sneak in and wake them up too early. And keep things calm at bedtime, to help soothe them to sleep quickly.

2. Temperature control

Body temperature plays an important role in our sleeping patterns, whatever our age. Generally, our temperature is at its highest in the morning, when we’re feeling bright and energetic, drops in the drowsy afternoon and is at its lowest after sundown, when melatonin goes to work to help us sleep. So it’s important to maintain the right temperature in your baby’s room, whatever the season, so they don’t wake up too hot or too cold. Aim to keep it heated to 16-20ºC. A room thermometer might be useful to check.

The right mattress and cover can also play its part in temperature regulation. Aerosleep mattress protectors have been scientifically tested, have a built in 3D air layer that helps maintain your baby’s body heat at a safe-sleeping level, wicks away moisture and ensures free breathing all night long.

Remember, babies can’t control their body heat in the same way as adults. So even if you think it’s chilly, don’t crank up the thermostat, as it might cause your baby to overheat. For the same reason, electric blankets, hot water bottles and sheepskin liners aren’t recommended.

3. Skip bath time

Throw out the bath water, save the baby! You might think that a nice warm bath on a cold winter’s night would soothe your baby to sleep. Surprisingly, all that fuss might just have the opposite effect. A quick sponge down and straight into a cosy sleeping bag might be a better option for a swift trip to slumberland.

4. Stay cool, but cosy

Layers are absolutely the way to go for daytime dressing. Generally the plus one rule applies – in cold weather, babies need whatever you’re wearing, plus one extra layer. If you feel you need to check your baby’s temperature and make sure you’ve got the layers just right, feel their tummy rather than hands or feet. Extremities will always feel colder in cool weather – it’s perfectly natural. Just pop on some mittens and extra socks if they’re not a cosy, rosy pink.

At night, it’s a different story. Go for a light but warm swaddle or sleeping bag purposely designed for safe sleeping on chilly nights. Wrapping your little one up warm from top to toe, they often have built in mittens to keep those tiny hands toasty, too. Always check the manufacturer’s recommended tog rating for the time of year and your own room temperature. Puckababy do a fabulous range for all ages from newborn to 6 years old, in a cosy teddy fabric perfect for keeping the cold out. Resist the temptation to pop a night cap on or use a sleeping bag with a hood – make sure you keep your baby’s face clear at all times.

If you do need to add a blanket, keep it lightweight, tuck in well and always put your baby to sleep at the bottom of the cot, so they can’t wriggle down underneath it.

5. Let the light in

You know keeping light levels low at night is a major factor in good sleeping. But did you also know that getting enough daylight is just as important? It helps set your baby’s body clock correctly, helping them learn when it’s time to be awake and time to sleep. That’s because the sleep hormone, melatonin, is light sensitive, suppressed during the day, at its highest during the night. So throw open the blinds and let the sunshine in! It’ll help warm the room, too, a bonus in the current cost of fuel crisis!

6. Feeding times

Feed little and often as it gets closer to bedtime. You want your baby to feel full enough so as not to wake you up in the middle of the night, but not so over-stuffed it stops them getting to sleep in the first place. A regular routine helps, too, sticking to the same time and place for the last meal of the day so that it sends a clear signal that this is time for sleep.

7. Keep coughs and colds at bay

It’s hard to avoid winter snuffles, coughs and colds. They can be real sleep wreckers, not just for your baby, but for you, too. There’s nothing more draining than disrupted sleep, more miserable than a poorly poppet at 2am! So stay away from sources of infection, if you can. Keep the medicine cabinet stocked with whatever works for you – like cough remedies and chest rubs suitable for your child’s age range.

8. Turn up the noise

This may sound completely bonkers, but noise can actually help babies sleep, whatever the time of year. Especially those younger than 4 months old, although it can work for older ones, too. We’re not talking loud bangs, your favourite band or even a nice bit of Bach, but white noise – that sort of rhythmic continuous sound that the baby would have got used to inside the womb, and you get from a droning vacuum cleaner or washing machine, for instance. You can buy white noise machines or download an app that does the same thing.

9. Back is best

You already know you should always put your baby to sleep on their back. But in Winter, there’s yet another reason to do it. Babies control their temperature through their face and head, so sleeping on their back is another way to prevent overheating.

10. For peaceful nights, make the most of the day!

There have been recent reports from Scandinavia of the benefits for babies of napping in al fresco. Suitably insulated, of course! But there’s no doubt the great outdoors is good for everyone. Wrap yourselves up warm, get out there, go for a walk in the park, scuff those leaves, crunch through the snow, breathe in that crisp fresh air, embrace the change in the seasons! You’ll all feel and sleep better.

Note: Our recommendations are for general guidance only. If you have any concerns about your baby’s development, sleeping habits or temperature, whatever the time of year, always consult your health professional.