What does the clock change mean?
It is that time of year where the clocks jump back by 1 hour during the autumn clock change, on the last Sunday of October at 2am. It is the time where we all get our hour back from the Spring clock change and get 1 hour of extra sleep…..oh wait, unless you have children as their body clocks will be waking an hour earlier.
The autumn clock change does not mean you have to have subsequent battles at bedtime. Follow these tips for a gradual approach and your little one will not notice the difference, resulting in smoother bedtimes. The good news is that this clock change means darker mornings and evenings which can really help with settling your little one and dare I say, maybe even sleep a little longer.
Parents dread these clock changes but if you follow this gradual approach your child’s sleep should not be too disrupted by the clock change. Any upset caused by the clock change will only be temporary and should not last more than the week.
On the Sunday morning of October 30th your digital clock will say 7am but your body will still be on an 8am, therefore gaining an hour of daytime.
The same thing happens on an evening. Your body will be on an 8pm clock but the autumn clock change means that is is actually now 7pm. Coupled with the evenings getting darker, you will feel tired earlier. This is not a real problem for us as we can adjust and tailer our own bedtimes but for little ones, they may struggle and you may be faced with a bedtime battle if you stick by the new time.
How you can help your little one to adjust.
For children who are no longer having naps, the transition to the clock change is quite simple. All you have to do is ‘split the difference’ between the old time and the new time. On the Sunday night of the clock change, if bedtime is usually 8pm, put them to bed that night at 7:30pm and do this for the next 3 nights and on night 4, put them to bed at the new time.
For children over the age of 2, try a ‘gro clock’ and you can set the sunrise time to be half an hour earlier for those first three days (just remember to set it back to normal again afterwards).
Similarly for children 1 year and older you can also ‘split the difference’ except that you will have to do this for naps and bedtime. On the Sunday of the clock change, if your little one has their nap after their lunch at 12:30pm, bring lunch and naptime forward by 30 minutes so that nap time starts at 12:00. Do the same for bedtime and bring it forward by 30 minutes. If bedtime is usually 7pm, then put them down for 6:30 and do this for the next 3 nights. Can I suggest that you split the difference with nap times for an extra day but bedtime on day 4 will be at the new clock time.
You may want to allow your little one to have 30 minutes longer if you are able to get them to have a slightly longer awake time for the first 3 days.
Baby sleep is the most complex to push forward because they will be too sensitive to simply ‘splitting the difference’.
Based on a 7am wake up time and a 7pm bedtime. When your baby wakes on that first morning, try to wait 10 minutes before responding to them as you do not want to make them think that 6am time is an okay time to get up as it will be the new 7am time now. Do this for the next day too but do not respond for 20 minutes and then the same the following morning and by the 4th morning the time will be 6:30am. At the end of the week your little ones schedule should be adjusted to the new time and they should be waking up at their usual hour.
At bedtime, get in line with the new time on the fourth night so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm.
For naps you will need to put them down at an earlier time (correspondent to their wake-up time) and make gradual adjustment towards the normal clock time.
Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.
This is probably one of the only instances that newborn sleep makes things easier in this clock change adjustment. Little babies have unpredictable bedtimes so just go with the flow. As they and you do not have a set bedtime anyway there is no need to worry about any clock changes.
Here is a link to my ‘a better bedtime routine’ blog for ideas of how to make bedtime a smoother more calming experience. Darker mornings and evenings that come with the autumn clock change also mean a change in the temperature so I have popped a link here to the ‘gro’ page so you can check that their night clothing is appropriate for the temperature of their bedroom.
I hope this makes sense for your little one, if you follow these times and adjustments you can transfer into Greenwich Mean Time smoothly over the course of a week.
If you are struggling with your little ones sleep even after the clock change, please get in touch. Book a free, no obligation call and we can talk about working together to get you a better night’s sleep.