How Do I Manage The Clocks Going Back?

Halloween and Christmas are fast approaching which means the clocks are going back by one hour very soon. What does that mean for you? A longer lie in on your Sunday morning? An extra hour on the dancefloor on your big Saturday night out? Well, it may have used to mean that! But if you are reading this blog, it’s more likely because those days are long gone and you’re worried that the one hour change in the clocks is going to play havoc with your little one’s sleep routine.

So what do us parents do to ensure that our little ones aren’t waking up even earlier than they normally do? There are two options: one is a bit more progressive and in-keeping with their existing routine; the other is a bit more of a “crash course” approach. Both do work, they just have a different path in getting there.

Let’s look at the progressive approach first (based on a 7am-7pm routine):

  • On the Wednesday night before the clock change, start to adjust your little one’s bedtime, putting them to bed 10mins later than usual.
  • Repeat this 10mins adjustment on both Thursday and Friday so that on Friday night, your child’s bedtime is 30mins later than normal, i.e. 7.30pm.
  • If they sleep a little later in the mornings, that is great – let them do so.
  • On the Saturday before the clock change, try to keep them awake until 1 hour after their normal bedtime routine, i.e. 8pm.
  • On Sunday morning, the plan would be for them to wake around 7am with the clock change.
  • On Sunday, follow your existing routine and put your little one down at the normal routine time.

The “crash course” looks a little different and is as follows:

  • Continue with your normal routine until the Saturday before the clocks change.
  • On the Saturday night, try to keep your little one up a full hour past bedtime (you could let them sleep a little longer for their daytime nap(s) or add in an extra nap depending on their age).
  • If they wake an hour before the normal time, leave them in the room if they are settled – they may drop back off to sleep. If not, try to help them back to sleep and try not to feed them until at least 6am on the new time.
  • Over the next couple of days, they should re-adjust to waking at 7am.

Or simply do nothing. Some babies are super flexible and the one hour change doesn’t impact them. Pick the approach that best suits your little one. My children always fall into the “crash course” approach as they are good sleepers and can sleep beyond their scheduled time, but the progressive approach may be better for little ones who are a bit more sensitive to routine changes.

Either way, it’s extremely important to not let clock changes allow your child to slip into waking patterns which you will still be trying to resolve when the clocks go forward one hour in the new year! If your child does end up waking earlier than you would like, have a read of my blog on early wakings to find out more on how to resolve this. 

I’m a baby and toddler sleep consultant specialising in designing gentle sleep training programmes for babies and toddlers. I work with clients on a one to one basis and I also have a series of age-specific online courses for you to implement at your own pace. 



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