Sleep expert Niamh O'Reilly on how to navigate kids' sleep when the clocks go back
You have just settled the children into a nice little routine now that school's back and BANG, the clocks change again. Thanks a lot, autumn.
This one can be particularly tough for kids, and parents of kids who are already early risers, or those who struggle to sleep at all.
This year, the clocks are going back this weekend, on Sunday, October 31st, at 2am.
And sure look, we know it's a prospect just as frightening as Halloween but luckily, we caught up with sleep expert Niamh O'Reilly – and are some of her most handy tips on how to handle it:
1. Take it slow
The best option and the one I would recommend is to slowly change your child’s schedule over the course of the next few days before the time changes. So, for example, tomorrow, put your child to bed 15 minutes later than normal. This is done with the hope that they will wake 15 mins later than normal but it mightn’t happen. It’s a body clock thing! Offer any napping child the opportunity to snooze 15 minutes later the following day. For the next few days put him to bed another 15 minutes later each night (and nap 15 further minutes later) until the night of the time change and you will be back to your normal schedule.
2. Be flexible
If you think your child can handle the change, you can stick to your normal schedule up until the time the clocks change, and once it kicks in, be flexible with your child. They will get there!
3. It's a very short-term problem
For those of you reading this in a complete muddle after the clocks have already changed, it’s not too late! It will settle down. Even for the most adaptable little ones, the change of a simple hour can cause a few issues for a week if not longer.
4. Go with the flow
The best way to approach it is without fear and apprehension. As adults, we become obsessed with the amount of sleep we get. Infants are reliant on our guidance and don’t get much of a say in the matter. By making the change gradually, come Saturday night, your little one will be going an hour later than at the start of the week.
There’s no point keeping them up too much later than their normal bedtime because quite often they will be overtired - and we all know that is when the wheels fall off.
5. Establish the new routine
Luckily, older children will probably be on school holidays and their normal day-to-day routines will be a little all over the place. Wake them at their normal wake-up time in order to keep some sense of routine for them. It probably won’t happen, but no matter their age, try not to let them lie in too late (particularly babies and toddlers).
For a handy reminder for which way the clocks go, I always remember this easy phrase: Spring forward, fall back.
Niamh O’Reilly is a sleep coach and best-selling author. She's also a baby and childcare guru, a 'parent nanny' and the answer to many a weary parent's woes. Niamh's book, No Fuss Baby & Toddler Sleep, is now available to buy from all good book stores or online from Amazon.com.
You can contact Niamh through her website, Thenursery.ie