Fall Back: 2 Surprisingly Simple Plans to Prepare for Baby’s Sleep

What used to be hailed as a more-than-welcome ‘extra hour in bed’ in your child-free days, is now nothing more than a spanner in the works to your just-perfected sleep routine. When 6 am becomes 5 am, but your extra hour in bed is swiftly interrupted by a confused little one who has no idea about clocks and time zones, things can go a bit wonky.

However, by planning ahead and making some minor adjustments to your baby or child’s schedule in the run-up to the change, you can try and ensure everything keeps ticking along (excuse the pun!) as usual — and you can take advantage of that extra hour!

Note: You’ll want to start making changes to your child’s routine a week before the clocks go back in your timezone.

The plan is surprisingly simple — but effective! By gradually increasing your child’s bedtime across the week until they’re going to bed an hour later than usual the night before the clocks change, you can reasonably expect them to wake up an hour later the next morning, which — violà! — will coincide perfectly with the extra hour of sleep you’re hoping to take advantage of.

There are two ways we can make this adjustment.

For children who are more accepting of change, we can go ahead and move bedtime forward by 10 minutes a day from the beginning of the week, as shown in the example below. I’ve used a standard 7 pm bedtime, but you can adjust this as necessary.

Monday: 7.10 pm

Tuesday: 7.20 pm

Wednesday: 7.30 pm

Thursday: 7.40 pm

Friday: 7.50 pm

Saturday: 8.00 pm

Clocks go back at 2.00 am.

Sunday: 7.00 pm


For children who are a little fussier and might need some extra support (and convincing!), we can make a change every other night instead. This could work as follows:

Monday: 7.15 pm

Tuesday: 7.15 pm

Wednesday: 7.30 pm

Thursday: 7.30 pm

Friday: 7.45 pm

Saturday: 8.00 pm

Clocks go back at 2.00 am.

Sunday: 7.00 pm

As you help your child to fall asleep slightly later than usual, you can shift your acceptable wake-up time to reflect this (i.e., going to bed 10 minutes later, getting up 10 minutes later, and so on).

If this doesn’t quite work and your little one doesn’t sleep for those additional 10 minutes, you can help them with the transition by keeping them in a darkened room until the new wake-up time to show that it’s still nighttime. Of course, you can always go in and see them, feed them, or even play quietly, but it’s important to try and emphasize that it’s not time to get up just yet. Then, when the new-wake up time rolls around, you can open the curtains and do anything else you can to signal that morning’s arrived, and it’s the start of a new day.

It may take a little while for your child’s sleep to adjust, so starting before the time change will really help you adjust without too much disruption.

Rebecca Michi

‘Rebecca Michi is an English gentle children’s sleep consultant and author based in Seattle. Rebecca works with families who have children under 6 years old and uses only the gentlest techniques and encourages parents to use their instincts when helping their child sleep. Rebecca uses many different gentle sleep training techniques, and never uses cry-it-out. For more information or consultations, find her at her website.

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October 20, 2019