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Dealing with the autumn clock change

There is a cold crisp air in the morning and the leaves are falling and crunching under little ones wellies. They have new hats ready and rosy cheeks waiting for kisses.

There are so many wonderful things about this time of year when you have little ones! But the one thing all parents dread is the autumn/fall clock change. 'Spring forward and fall back'. Yes that means that your little one is about to start waking an hour earlier than they do right now.

I often hear things like 'It is only an hour though. Is it really that big of a deal?'. In short my answer is YES, for some it is. Not all children will struggle to naturally adjust to the new time, generally if they are pretty laid back and easy going you will get through it without much thought or maybe just one early morning wake up. However, if your little one is not so easy going or you are already dealing with:

*early mornings (before 6.30am)

* split nights

*bedtime battles

*frequent night waking patterns

it can be a really stressful time to navigate. But do not worry! There are 3 ways I recommend dealing with the clock change and you have plenty of time to decide which one will best suit your child and implement it.

The all in one approach

This approach is better used for slightly older children or those who are of a laid back temperament. Very simply put, the Saturday night before clock change you keep them up and extra hour (8pm instead of 7pm), just for that one night and then hope that they sleep in an extra hour. Sounds simple but it does come with its own risks as you child may become overtired which could lead to an early morning which is the opposite of what you want.

If you do choose this approach here are some things to consider to support your little one:

  1. if they have recently dropped their nap, try to encourage one Saturday afternoon.

  2. If they are still napping then encourage an extra one or try to extend their last nap of the day and then move dinner time an hour later too.

Split the difference approach

This one is well suited if your little one is still having a lot of daytime sleep and can be a little sensitive to change to routine.

This one is not quite so extreme and can help to avoid overtiredness. Instead of putting them to bed an hour later you put them to bed 30 minutes later. So if your normal bedtime is 7pm then you will push that to 7.30pm instead on the Saturday night. Then on the Sunday, the clocks would have changed so you revert back to a 7pm bedtime (which will be 8pm old time!).

Changing the time in smaller increments like this can support your little one a bit more.

The gradual approach

This is the one I recommend most to the families I work with. That is because if your child is prone to sleep issues, chances are they have an alert temperament and will be very sensitive to change and prone to overtiredness. These traits struggle more with the clock change so it needs to be planned a little more carefully. This method will start the Wednesday before the clock change and this is how it works based on a 7pm bedtime:

  1. Wednesday night bedtime pushed to 7.15pm

  2. Thursday night pushed to 7.30pm

  3. Friday night pushed to 7.45pm

  4. Saturday night pushed to 8pm.

If you follow this method make sure you move other factors of the day too such as what time you get them up and meal times.

I hope you find this useful and feel confident in how to approach the clock change. As always, let me know if I can help at all or if you would like to discuss anything else about your child's sleep.


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