Do you remember the days when the clocks going back in Autumn meant another lazy hour in bed on a Sunday morning? You might have had that extra drink the night before, safe in the knowledge you could sleep it off.
As soon as you become a parent those days are long gone! That blissful hour is replaced by the confusion of how you manage your child’s bedtime routine with the least disruption.
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 routine; the other is a bit more of a “crash course” approach. Both work, they just have a different journey 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 adjusting bedtime by 10mins later than normal.
- Repeat this on Thursday and Friday so that on Friday night, your baby’s bedtime is 30mins later than normal, i.e. 7.30pm.
- If they wake a little later in the mornings, that is fine.
- 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, they should then wake around 7am as normal, even with the clock change.
- On Sunday night, put your little one down at the normal routine time.
Now for the crash course:
- Continue with the 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 in their daytime nap).
- 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.
- Over the next couple of days, they should re-adjust to waking at 7am.
My eldest always fell into the “crash course” approach as he was a good sleeper during the night most of the 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 bad habits which you will still be trying to resolve when the clocks go forward in Spring!
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.