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Autumn Clock Change - How best to manage your baby's sleep!

Updated: May 15

The UK Autumn clock change can be really difficult to manage. Especially if you already have an early riser on your hands! If little one is already waking at 5am… we really don’t want to make that a 4am wake up!

We want to be able to support their transition too. As it doesn't just affect their circadian rhythm (the difference of night and day) but also their digestive timings and more! So it is important to factor these things and find an approach that supports your little one, ensuring we aren't pushing them too far during this and the best solution for them.

Toddler walking in autumn leaves
Autumn is here!

So what are the best methods to use to manage the Clock Change?

1. The Staggered Approach – best for time sensitive children and younger babies. Adjust both eating and feeding schedules by 15 minutes a day in the lead up to the clock change!

2. Nap Management - great if your child is nearing a nap transition or is ready to extend times between sleeps. This can help move your child’s sleep time ahead of the clock changes and making bedtimes later. You could also encourage a longer nap to help make bedtime later here.

3. Split the Difference – This is recommended for toddlers and above to help shift the circadian rhythm. Split by 30 minutes on the day of the change, and make up the other 30 minutes the day after (Sunday). Be mindful of overtiredness here though!

4. Cold Turkey – Recommended for older children – but be mindful of overtiredness kicking in – an hour is a long time! A split approach may be best for those more time sensitive.

Roman numeral clock, hands showing just before 12
Clock Changes

Now – although you have your master plan of combatting the Clock Changes – it is also important to get to the root cause of the Early Rising. As what will happen, is that after a short period of time even if you’ve extended the sleep to fall in line with the new times – the old times will likely come back!

The most common reasons for Early Rises are –

1. Overtiredness – the build up of cortisol during the day when sleep is too far stretches often has a huge impact on early rises. As parents we also hope that if we make bedtime later… the early mornings will stretch. Often it makes it worse as the overtiredness cycle continues to bring the early starts.

2. Undertiredness – on the flip side, it can often be there is too much day sleep. If they are nearing a transition and the additional naps, or sleep coming too close to bedtime is starting to bring the early rises then it’s an undertiredness issue!

3. The Settle – as their melatonin drops early in the morning, if can be a difficult resettle if they are completely reliant on something to help them get back over (often if this is a parent, then they are too stimulated at this time by the interventions and won’t go back down).

Have a think about the reasons behind the Early Rises and what may need to be changed here. As you want to put focus on this too so that the clock change doesn't reinforce an even earlier wake up!

Download the “Exhausted to Thriving – Steps to Sleep Success” guide here for more tips and join the Exhausted to Thriving Community group.

Do also reach out here if would love my support in sleep - the reason why I do this is so families don't need to go through it alone.

Jade x

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