Before becoming a parent, I paid little attention to the clocks going back or forward except for the gleeful realisation I was to get an extra hour in bed as the clocks went back in October or lighter nights in a gorgeous beer garden somewhere in the Spring.

It wasn’t until I had my son that I realised the impact it can have. It suddenly dawned on me that something was going to come along that could disrupt all the hard work I’d put into his sleep and routines and it was going to happen TWICE a year!

Whilst working with families as a sleep consultant, I’ve acquired several ways of navigating clock changes all of which are successful depending on your parenting style, family schedules and the nature of your little one. In this blog, I’ll tell you how to navigate the clock change whilst keeping impact on sleep to a minimum.

Understanding the Clock Change Effect on Baby Sleep: Twice a year, most regions observe daylight saving time, where clocks are either set forward or back by one hour in the Spring and Autumn. While some little ones will sail through it, it can have a significant impact on others’ sleep schedules, especially for babies and young children who thrive on routine and consistency.

Approaches for Helping Babies Adjust to the Clock Change

Approach 1 – Gradual Transition: To help your baby adjust to the time change, adapt their daily routine gradually over the course of the week leading up to the clock change. Move bedtimes, naps and wake-up times by 15 minutes each day starting on the Wednesday prior to the clock change.  This means that their sleep timings will be 1 hour earlier or later by the Saturday night the clocks go forward or back and, therefore, wake up time should be adjusted, too.

Approach 2 – One-Fell-Swoop: During the Saturday of the clock change, shift your little one’s routine back or forward by an hour.  This means moving wake up, nap and bedtime an hour earlier or later e.g. a 7-7 routine with one nap would become 6am, 12pm and 6pm or 8am, 2pm and 8pm.

Note: Doing it all at once can work well for little ones who already settle well and sleep independently.  This is the approach I have used with my toddler for the past couple of years as he is able to sleep later than his scheduled routine timings (i.e. I wake him on a morning so have the option to either let him sleep later to achieve a later bedtime for Spring clock change or earlier for Autumn clock change).

You can spread the change over a couple of days instead and adjust the routine by 30 minutes if you know your little one is sensitive to change or relies on strict wake-windows.

Approach 3 – Let It Be: This simply means you make no changes and see how it goes.  If your little one sleeps well and you aren’t worried about a slightly early morning as a one off, this approach is for you.  Some little ones will happily and readily adjust to the time change over a couple of days if they are already in a good routine and have no current sleep issues. If your little one is sensitive to changes within their sleep routine, a more gradual approach may suit them better.

Whichever approach you take, there are no guarantees. It can take little ones a few days to get into the swing of the new timings. The key is to keep things consistent and resist introducing new sleep habits that you do not want to maintain or become permanent.

If you do have an early start following the clock change, treat it as a night waking and try to get them back to sleep rather than starting the day.  Doing this over a few mornings should be enough to get most little ones back on track.

If you are still having issues a week or so after the clock change, there is something else at play and I would recommend looking at other sleep factors.

This is something I can help with.  I am a certified infant sleep consultant and former sleep-deprived parent.  I have been right where you are now! 

mummy cuddling her cute boy in blue

I can work with you to take a deep dive into your little one’s sleep, outline your sleep goals and write a bespoke routine and sleep plan to give your family the sleep you deserve. I offer a 1:1 private coaching package giving you unlimited support during the entire programme – I am there to guide you every step of the way. 

Interested? My free 15 minute Discovery Call is where your sleep journey begins.