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  • Natalie Graham

Autumn Clock Change

It’s that confusing time of year again when you wake up on a Sunday morning with the clocks all saying different times!

At 2am on Sunday 31st October, the clocks go back an hour and I wanted to offer some tips on how you can help your little ones to adjust.

It’s easy to get into a muddle when the clocks change, so I’ve outlined some different approaches below:

Gradual approach - works well for very young or sensitive sleepers

This is where you move the child’s bedtime in 15 minute increments over the four days preceding the clock change. Make sure to move any naps accordingly too!

It would look like this:

  • Wednesday night bedtime is 7.15pm

  • Thursday night bedtime is 7.30pm

  • Friday night bedtime is 7.45pm

  • Saturday night bedtime is 8pm. (Then the clocks go back in the middle of the night)

  • Sunday night bedtime is the new 7pm

Split the Difference

This is personal favourite and seems to suit most children.

If you split the difference, you put your child to bed at 7.30pm, rather than stretching out to 8pm. He may wake a little early by the new clock time but will get back into rhythm very quickly as you will return to a 7pm bedtime on Sunday night by the new clock time.

Remember, if little one still takes one or two naps, just nudge these later by 30mins too to keep the day on schedule.

Immediate switch - works well for older children or those less sensitive to time changes

To save a week’s worth of confusing bedtimes just go straight to the new time on Saturday night.

For example, if your child’s bedtime is normally 7pm, on Saturday keep them up for an extra hour and make 8pm bedtime for that one night only. When the clocks change in the night, you gain an hour, so ideally your child will wake at their usual time (i.e 7am) by the new clock time, and still have had his usual amount of sleep. Then, on Sunday night just continue with your 7pm bedtime by the new clock time.

If your child struggles to make it through to 8pm on the Saturday night without becoming too over-tired (which, beware, could potentially lead to night wakings or an unusually early start!) you can:

  • Add in a short nap in the afternoon, if he no longer naps.

  • Add in an extra catnap in the afternoon for a child who is napping anyway.

Whichever plan you feel will work best for your child, make sure those bedtime cues in your routine (such as bath and story time) remain the same, as the familiarity of these will ensure that any adjustment is made with the minimum amount of fuss.

It's also great idea to adjust mealtimes on the Saturday to help ease into the new timings on Sunday.

My final suggestion would be to make sure you get out first thing on Sunday morning and enjoy the daylight which will really help regulate their melatonin levels and suppress that sleepy hormone. Once you're on the new time, try not to compare what the 'old time' is - just go straight with the new!

It can sometimes take around a week to be fully back into routine on the new time so you may need patience while everything settles!


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