Supporting your family with the ‘spring forward’ clock change

Spring is here! This is a period of new beginnings and warmer weather (hopefully!). Many feel as though Spring is truly upon us once the clocks have changed. Luckily, the clocks are due to ‘spring forward’ on Sunday 31st of March 2024. Although this new season brings about a period of optimism for many, parents of young children often describe how this clock change, and other clock changes throughout the year, can cause havoc with their children’s delicate schedules.

The key to managing any change relating to infant sleep is to find what works best for your child and individual family. There a many things to consider when deciding how a clock change will affect you. We have narrowed these down into 3 for you.

Here are 3 options to consider:

Option 1: Take One Big Jump

With this option, you simply change your child’s schedule to the new time zone in one move. For example, when the clocks change offer the nap at noon as usual, no matter what time they wake. This allows them to keep their original schedule but at the new time.

For example:

This approach is best suited to children who respond well to changes in their schedule and/or who follow a loose schedule that changes on any given day. Some children may not respond well to this approach as may not be tired by the time it reaches noon (12 pm on the new time zone would be 11 am on the previous schedule).

If you suspect your child will not adapt using this strategy, then they may be better suited to Option 2….

Option 2: Gradual Change

This approach supports a gradual transition. This is achieved by adapting their current schedule by just 10 minutes per day, starting 1 week before the clocks go forward.

You will move the entire schedule, including meals and snacks, starting 10 minutes earlier each day. Continue to start 10 minutes earlier each day, until the new schedule is 1 hour earlier than what it was previously. So when the clocks ‘go forward’, the child will return to their original schedule. 

For example:

If your little one can adapt well to a change in their schedule, then you may wish to choose bigger increments, such as 20 minutes earlier, rather than 10 minutes a day. This would allow you to start the process 3 days before the clock change.

Other children can be sensitive to change. Therefore, it may work better for them if they work in just 5-minute increments over 2 weeks, instead of 1 week of changes.

Option 3: Do Nothing

Some parents prefer to go with the flow and adapt their child’s schedules on any given day as consistent with their daily activities or child’s sleep cues. Therefore, the clock change may not be particularly relevant to them.

Other families may already be working on an early schedule and wish to take advantage of one a little later. Therefore, it may work for you to allow your child to simply keep this schedule but in the new time zone.

For example:

The approach that works best for you will depend on your family. In any case, here are some tips which may help:

Many families dread the clock changes throughout the year. Humans naturally respond well to light in the day and dark at night, which can be difficult as the evenings become longer. A dark environment can help the body prepare for a good night’s sleep. The summer clock change promotes more light in the evening, which may impact your little one’s bedtime routine so it may be beneficial to consider purchasing some black-out curtains which will also help when the mornings become lighter.

Whatever option you pick, we hope the change goes smoothly for your family.