Dave Gibson


Clocks change

How to help children with the Autumn clock change

This coming Sunday 28th October the clocks will have the second of the annual changes signalling the end of British Summer Time. Whilst most adults will welcome the extra hour in bed it can often upset the routine for babies and toddlers who find it harder to make the hour adjustment in one go. Here are three simple steps to manage the change so your family slot into the time change with the minimum of fuss.

1. Split the hour into smaller steps

Our body clock is designed to move by about 2 minutes each day. Whilst the adult body clock can adjust by up to one hour if needed, babies and small toddlers are much more sensitive to the change. Equally toddlers who are asked to spend the extra hour often just don’t understand why things have changed so suddenly.

For little ones who aren’t at school and babies, tweak the nap and bed times by 10-minute each day by moving them backwards towards the eventual change on Sunday 18th October. The adjustment would start on the Sunday before (11th October this year) so by the time it gets to the ‘clocks change weekend’ your little ones have already adjusted to the new time. If you miss this deadline and have less days to play with, then change the steps accordingly. For example if you have four days split the hour down into fifteen minute steps.

If your child is at school, or nursery school the change of schedule will need to wait until later in the week. Start their change on Thursday night, and set their bedtimes, and bedtime routine backwards by 20 minutes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday so that on Sunday morning they are in sync with the new time zone.

Adults, teenagers and older children can manage half hour changes. Move bedtimes backwards by these steps on Friday and Saturday night.

By splitting the hour leap into smaller to manage changes ahead of Sunday it means that your family will wake up on the Sunday on time and naturally adjusted to the new time zone. It’s then easy to slot into the start of the new workday week on Monday morning.

2. Adjust all daily routines

Meal times are a key part of our daily routine. As you move bedtime routines and sleep times backwards adjust all your baby’s and toddler’s meal times, bath time and nap times by the same amount of time too.

3. Explain what’s going on

If your child is old enough to understand what is going on it’s always worth fully explaining the changes. Whilst most children will welcome the extra time with you at night it’s always best to tell them what is going on and why you are staggering the changes. I always like using clocks with a sun and a moon and telling the child that they must stay in bed as long as the moon is out.

Always remember, your child will soon adjust to the new regime even if these steps don’t work or you haven’t the time to use them . Thus, there is no need to be overly concerned at any stage if things don’t fall into place straight away.