Help your little one to breeze the Autumn clock-change
For lots of people, mainly those without children, the Autumn clock-change is a thing of wonder – a whole extra hour in bed without having to sacrifice anything else in return…bliss! For parents, however, it can induce a feeling of dread. Many are accustomed to rising between 6 and 7am with their little larks, and whilst perhaps a touch on the early-side, 6-something cannot technically be classed as inhumane. Yet on the morning of Sunday 25 October, that 6 will have turned, literally overnight, into an altogether less appealing 5!
Here is my step-by-step guide to helping your little one to make the transition out of British Summer Time as smoothly as possible.
An incremental approach is usually best for babies and younger children and/or those who have generally fixed sleep and wake times. Commence this plan on Wednesday 21 October by keeping your little one up 15 minutes later than usual.
If they are keen to sleep a little later in the morning (although don’t assume this will happen), try to let your child take the extra sleep. If at all possible, ease meal and nap-times back by just 15 minutes on Thursday and then that evening, push bedtime back by a further 15 minutes– so that you are now half an hour later than usual.
Repeat the process of edging other timings back on Friday, advancing a further 15 minutes at bedtime and finally, on Saturday, so that you arrive at bedtime a whole hour later than where you started.
Managing the one hour change in these smaller steps means there is less scope for a child to become overtired. It also enables their body-clock to adjust. 60 minutes split over four days is manageable for almost all children.
2. All in
For less sensitive sleepers and older children for whom overtiredness isn’t so much of a risk, parents may find it works well to just push bedtime back on the Saturday night by as close to an hour as the child can manage. For a child who typically no longer naps, a quick power nap in the car/buggy in the early afternoon can be a useful strategy if you plan to postpone bedtime.
For a younger child who does still nap, a full hour is a long time to delay bedtime. If you are able to nudge the nap back slightly,to effectively spread the hour more evenly across the day, this can help to stave off overtiredness.
3. A middle-ground
With this option, you would split the 60 minute change across two days, trying to make an extra 30 minutes awake on Saturday and completing the change on Sunday, moving naps and mealtimes across both days accordingly. Save for very sensitive sleepers, this is usually my preferred option.
Alright on the night (eventually!)
Whatever happens, things will recover themselves. Babies and young children cannot tell the time and are much more driven by what time it feels like. With this in mind, no matter what time you are up on the morning of Sunday 25 October, operate to the “new” time and, over the course of the following few days, little body-clocks will find their new rhythm.
One helpful aspect of the clock-change when it comes to child sleep is the darker evenings. However, for a short time at least, this comes at the cost of lighter mornings. Daylight creeping into a child’s room in the morning will drive them to wakefulness and so taking steps to block out the light is a worthwhile investment.
Special thanks to Lauren from Little Sleep Stars for another super blog