THIS month the nights will become longer as the clocks go back an hour.
While this is good news for many excited about the impending festive season – and those who love an extra hour in bed – it could be bad news for the millions of parents who have worked hard to create the perfect sleep routine for their little ones!
So, we’ve called on three of the nation’s best sleep experts to gather their top tips to help you prepare your little one for the clock change:
Sarah Patel, Founder of @teachtosleep and baby and toddler and sleep consultant at The Baby Show, which returns to Olympia London on October 22-24, says: “The best thing you can do to help your little one with the clock change this month is to help them regulate their circadian rhythm – aka their body clock and there are many ways to do this.”
Sarah adds: “The best way of regulating your and your baby’s circadian rhythm is to get outside in the fresh air as much as possible.
“Not only is it great for you but it will also help you feel less tired.”
Lucy Shrimpton, Sleep Expert and Founder of The Sleep Nanny agrees: “Make sure children get plenty of daylight and fresh air first thing in the morning to regulate their melatonin levels and suppress their sleepy hormone.”
Dim down the lights and create a peaceful sleep setting
Sarah says: “Dim down an hour before bedtime. Half close the curtains or blinds, dim your lighting and put lamps on.
“Talk in quieter voices and play relaxing music.”
Lucy adds: “Blackout blinds can be a huge help so the new, lighter mornings don’t confuse them further.”
Build up to it
Eve Squires, Founder of Calm & Bright Sleep Support says: “The clock change can easily turn a 6am waker into a 5am one overnight.
“Parents who favour a structured approach might wish to put their baby to bed 15 minutes later across four nights, or 30 minutes later across two nights in the lead up.”
Lucy suggests that while the ‘gradual adjustment’ technique can work well for some, it can be quite confusing for others and so she recommends going for an immediate switch to the new time often works well: “For example, if your child’s bedtime is normally 7pm, on Saturday night try to keep your child up for an extra hour and, for one night only, give them an 8pm bedtime.
“Remember that the clocks change over night and you gain an hour, so ideally your child will wake at their usual time (i.e. 7am) by the new clock time.
“They’ve had their usual amount of sleep, you’ve adjusted to the time difference and everyone’s happy – and on Sunday night just continue with your usual 7pm bedtime by the new clock routine.”
Don’t let them get over-tired
Lucy says: “Over-tiredness is the biggest contributor to the child sleep challenge.
“As strange as it seems, wearing your children out will not actually help them sleep better.
“Getting a good night’s sleep for their age, and a consistent bedtime between 6pm and 8pm will eliminate such things as bedtime battles, night awakenings and early rising.”
She says that if you’re worried your child might be getting over-tired, add in an extra mid-afternoon nap.
So, if your child is still taking regular naps, add in an extra mid-afternoon catnap or if they aren’t taking naps, add in a short, one-off nap in the afternoon.
Keep a routine
One of the most important things is to keep a good night’s sleep routine. Sarah says: “Have a consistent bedtime routine; that includes a consistent bedtime and wake up time.”
Lucy says that one of the most important things over the clock change period is to make sure all those bedtime cues, such as bath time and story time, remain the same as the familiarity of these will ensure that any adjustment is made with the minimum amount of fuss.
Go with the flow
While it’s important to bear in mind helpful tips on dealing with the clock change, Eve believes that it’s important not to stress too much about it.
She says: “Go-with-the-flow parents can simply put their little one to bed at the usual time and hope for the best.
” That is what I will be doing with my four children.
“Take a relaxed approach to the clock change – baby watch, instead of clock watch.
“Let them sleep when they’re tired and wake when they want where possible.
“Whatever approach parents use, sleep will be back to normal within a week so try not to let one little hour cause too much angst.”
We shared how one in ten Brits don’t sleep through the night – with stress and the wrong mattress to blame.
And these are the baby sleep techniques which REALLY work, according to the experts.