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The Best Bedtime for Your Child

The Best Bedtime for Your Child

Should your child be going to bed earlier? Getting enough sleep is so important for children, and many Circle of Moms members have expressed curiosity and concern over whether their child's bedtime is appropriate. To help you figure out whether your child needs more zzz's, we've rounded up expert recommendations on sleep, plus real-world advice from other moms.

What the Experts Say About Children's Sleep Needs

To decide what time to put your child to bed, it's important to first be aware of how many hours of sleep per night children need. The National Sleep Foundation provides the following recommendations on children's sleep needs

  • Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period (including naps)
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 11-13 hours per night
  • School-age (5-12 years): 10-11 hours of sleep per night

Are Late Bedtimes for Toddlers Okay?

In general, the time your child goes to bed is less important than the total number of sleep hours they get. As a result, some moms may have their toddler going to bed at 7pm, while others wait until 9pm, and both are fine as long as they child sleeps correspondingly later as well. As Catherine C. relays: "A lot of my friends who stay home have their kids on a later bedtime schedule because they like having the mornings to themselves, or just like getting started a little later in the mornings themselves."


Easing the Transition to Preschool

Of course, for older children, bedtimes are less flexible because of school start times. As a result, some moms recommend implementing an early bedtime routine during the toddler years so that you won't have to go through a difficult transition when your child begins school. As Renae K. advises: "If I were you I would try to move his bedtime earlier as he will need to be going to bed earlier in years to come and it will more difficult to adjust when he is older."

Working Backwards

Once school does start, try working backwards from your child's required wake-up time to identify the ideal bedtime. For example, if your 4-year-old needs to get up at 7:30 a.m., then a 7:30 p.m. bedtime will allow for 12 hours of sleep, which is in the mid-range of what's recommended for this age group.

Circle of Moms members note that the recommended range of hours for each age is a range for a good reason: every child is different. To gauge whether your child needs more or less sleep for kids in their age range, Jodi A. advises paying attention to whether your child is regularly falling asleep in the car (a sign that he's not getting enough sleep) or is waking on his own in the morning (a sign that he's well-rested): "If you are having to wake him in the morning all the time, he is not getting enough sleep, so you should consider an earlier bedtime. If he is waking up too early, he may cope with a slightly later bedtime."

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