Bedtime by Age – Timing is everything

Bedtime by age is what we are talking about today. Knowing how much sleep children need in addition to the best time to put them to bed is key to ensuring that the little ones get adequate restorative sleep and remain on a successful sleep schedule. Let’s take a look at bedtime by age and why it is important to have a set schedule.

Bedtime by Age Information for Establishing a Sleep Schedule

All young children need plenty of sleep to ensure that they develop properly physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, children of different ages need different amounts of sleep, different bedtimes, and different methods to implement a sleep schedule. It is also important to remember that putting children to sleep too late can actually lead to less restful sleep.

3 Main Problems Associated with a Starting Bedtime Too Late

It might seem that the later a child goes to bed, the better they will sleep, but this is not true. In fact, a bedtime that comes too late in the day can result in three major difficulties with a child’s sleep schedule.

1. Difficulty Falling Asleep

There is a specific sleep window that all babies have. Remaining awake beyond this window causes their bodies to produce adrenaline to help them remain awake. Their bodies are tricked into thinking that they must remain awake. This is often when we see the “second wind”. Getting in front of this is key to a successful bedtime.

2. Multiple Night Wakings

In addition to adrenal, a baby’s body will release cortisol when they are awake too late in the evening. This cortisol release causes poor sleep quality which triggers night waking – often more than one.

3. Early Rising

Sleep begets sleep, meaning that proper sleep sets your baby on a path which allows them to go to sleep more easily for every naptime and bedtime. Therefore, early rising is a key indicator that a child’s bedtime is too late.

Bedtime by Age Chart

Bedtime is based on the quality of day sleep, meaning naps will impact the bedtime start time.  Use the guide below to gauge your bedtime.  Consistency of bedtime and awake time is important, as it helps keep our internal clock set and is an important part of a healthy sleep routine!

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CLICK to download our printable Bedtime Chart

Age Total Hours of Sleep Bedtime Tips
Newborn 15 – 18 n/a  

Newborns typically sleep in short cycles of 2-4 hours throughout the day and night.

1-4 months 14 – 15 8:00-11:00 PM  

At this age they’re still developing and feeding often at night. Bedtime will inch earlier as you approach the 4 month mark.

4-8 months 14 – 15 5:30-7:30 PM  

Circadian rhythms are developing. Naps should be around 9/noon/3. Bedtime needs to be on the early side of the range if naps are short.

8-10 months 12 – 15 5:30-7:00 PM  

Nap transition from 3 naps to 2 occurs at this time. Naps should fall around 9/1. To make up for lack of nap 3 lean on early to bed.

10-15 months 12 – 14 5:30-7:00 PM  

Babies transition from 2 to 1 nap between 14-19 months old, don’t make the mistake of transitioning them to early.

15 months to 4 years 12 – 14 5:30-7:30 PM

Hold onto the 1 nap a day for as long as humanely possible. Ideally, up to age 4. Fight hard to keep it and at minimum offer restful awake time. Offset with an earlier bedtime, when nap is dropped they’ll need 1 extra hour of night sleep.

Have a burning question about your toddler or want to learn more about how to reduce bedtime battles and night waking? Sign up for your free 15 minute consultation with one of our certified Sleep Experts by visiting

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