Clock changes and sleep routines: How to help your children adapt


child from sleep lying on the sofa and enjoying life


I surely cannot be the only parent dreading the clocks going back this week? Not only does it force home the fact that summer is well and truly over, but what a hassle it is when you are the parent of very young children.

As people all over the country celebrate the thought of an extra hour in bed on Sunday morning, their jolly little statements grate in my ears like lodging cockroaches gorging on earwax.

‘An extra hour in bed, you say? Not for me. With five children under four-years-old, all it means is that I’ll be seeing the clock state helpfully that it’s 3.45am, rather than the less painful but equally unattractive 4.45am.’

It’s not just the little ones either. The middle kids are also early risers. In fact, all the children have always been – until the teen years hit, of course. I confirm with some authority that this is one parenting myth that is absolutely true.

Managing your baby or toddler’s sleep routine when the clocks go back or forward can take some work, but it can be done relatively quickly.

So how can we make the transition easier when the clocks change? Here are a few suggestions:


Small changes

One thing which does work is changing their bedtimes gradually over several nights. The downside is that it takes a week or so work through, but it does work. Increasing or decreasing their bedtimes (depending on whether the clocks have gone forwards or back) by ten minutes over several nights will help their body clocks adapt far easier than an entire one-hour change overnight. By the end of the week their body clocks should be well on their way to adapting to the new routine.


Wear them out

Perhaps not so much of an issue when the clocks go back but more physical exercise to wear them out may be a good way of getting them ready for a good night’s sleep when the clocks go forward. During that time of year in the Spring, bedtime comes around an hour earlier than normal. Tiring them out in the hope they’ll be ready to tumble off to the land of nod sooner than usual is worth a try!


Use a clock

Okay, so they might not be able to tell the time yet but it’s another kind of clock. The Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer displays some happy night-time stars when your little one is supposed to be asleep, letting them know that it’s not quite time to wake Mum and Dad up. Once the sunshine is displayed on the face, they’re able to go! I haven’t tried this myself but do know that it’s had a lot of glowing reviews (no pun intended there!). If you’ve tried it with your child do let us know what you thought.


Wait it out

If all else fails just hang on in there and wait it out. Your children’s body clocks will change and adapt sooner than you expect. Remember that their whole daily routine will be changing, not just their bed and waking times, so they will naturally adapt to the changes in no time.

The first couple of days after the clocks changing may be the hardest but they won’t last forever. And just think, no sooner will you all have settled into your new routine, then you’ll be doing it all again in six months!


What tips would you suggest? What did you find worked with your baby or toddler, and what definitely didn’t?! Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.










One thought on “Clock changes and sleep routines: How to help your children adapt

  1. We use the gro-clock with our eldest son (4) and it works a treat! He stays in bed until the sun comes up which we set at 7.50 everyday as that works for pre-school and weekends. It works for naps as well as bedtime, (if they have them)
    I put the clock back an hour last night and he got up at the new 7.50 this morning like usual! Very happy mummy. 🙂
    He also now gets a star on his chart for a dry bed and staying in bed till the sun comes up each day, working towards a Halloween party on Thursday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.