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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."

Image Source: iStockPhoto

LoriMacGregor LoriMacGregor 5 years
My 2 1/2 yr old son never liked sleeping since he has been born!! Ughh I fight with him each night to go to sleep n I'm lucky if he falls asleep by 10-11pm and he still wakes up once or twice through the night and wakes up at 6:30-7 each morning and DOESN'T NAP :-( and Doesn't stop all day!! I'm up n off to work each morning by 5:30am and am Lucky to get to bed by 12-1am I am that exhausted I don't know how I function anymore?!?!? Do 12-13 hours oh that would be heaven for me cause I know I'd be asleep by 9 pm myself if he was
JennettSwan JennettSwan 5 years
My daughter is 5 and in all-day Kindergarten. They do not take naps. Her bedtime is 7:30pm and she is usually asleep by 8pm, and she wakes up all by herself by 6:30am. By the time I pick her up from school in the afternoon, she is so exhausted that she tries to fall asleep in the car on the ride home; however, if I let her nap, she won't go to bed at her normal time. I've tried changing her bedtime to 30 minutes earlier, but then it really shortens our time together for dinner, bath, and bedtime story. Another thing is, no matter what time she goes to sleep at night, she will wake up between 6-6:30am. I try to get her to sleep in on the weekends but she still wakes up. She is definitely a morning person!
JulieSullivan3861 JulieSullivan3861 6 years
It gets harder when you have teenagers or adult children and little ones as well at home.
GraceRoberts GraceRoberts 6 years
I guess this is ideal but this definitely does not apply to all preschoolers. From birth, my 3 year old has needed less sleep than what would be the norm. No matter what time we start the bedtime routine, she finally falls asleep usually around 10pm and she is up by 7 (if not earlier) and 730 at the very latest. I wish she needed more sleep. I would love some time that my boyfriend and I could just hang out before we have to go to bed. It seems we need more sleep than she does.
CrystallenaFrost CrystallenaFrost 6 years
My son is 19mos and we try to get him to sleep by no later than 10, if we are out late then no later than 11. My son gets up on his own between 9 and 10:30 almost every morning. The only time I have to wake him is if we have somewhere to go early. In that case he goes to bed earlier the night before. I just can see me ever putting him to bed before 8 because then that cuts into my time with him and I love hanging out with my boy especially because I hope to be working soon. I put my boy down for an hr to 2hrs around 1 or 2 for a nap. Sometimes he does take a nap and sometimes he does not. He does always say “night night” and grab a pillow and blanket throughout the day but he doesn’t actually seem tired so I think it just because he sees the pillow and blanket.
Tracysleeper Tracysleeper 6 years
My 12 n 8 yr old go to sleep at 7:30 on most nights when possible. My son gets up around 5:45 fpr school. I find they both still require that muxh sleep. They get cranky n moody if they go to bed too many late nights. Weekends they can stay up later
JennyWalters3468 JennyWalters3468 6 years
My 4 year old daughter goes 2 bed btween 8 and 9. it depends on alot. her activity ;evel that day how tired she is etc. she wakes up as early as 730 and aslate as 830. she's usually asleep by 9 or 930 at the latest so she gets about 9 hours of good sleep at least a nite. do i follow rules and standards of society. uh no. i know what's best for my child.
kelliecarey kelliecarey 6 years
my lil man is 18months and goes to bed between 8 and half 8 and will sleep tru till 9.30 or 10.30, then will go for a nap at half 1 till half 3, he has always slept like this even this time last year he went to bed at 7 and woke bout 10 past or and would go back to bed for 2 hour nap bout 12 then stay up till bed time, think it all depends on the child, also wen he's teething as he is now he'l sleep longer yesterday i had to wake him at 11.45am
LorraineEastlake LorraineEastlake 6 years
Rebecca (4 in March next year) goes to bed@8pm. I have tried to do it earlier but it is too rushed - 8pm is more relaxed and she is happy to go to bed. She doesn't always have a nap in day but if she does it might be a bit later bedtime but she rarely wakes up in night and sleeps til between half 6am to half 7am xxx
JenNolan JenNolan 6 years
My 6 and 7 year old go to sleep btwn 7:30-8:00pm. My 7 year old is an early riser (up by 5:30a) no matter what time he goes to sleep. So, early bed time is best for us. My 6 year old will sleep a little longer and get up by 6:00-6:30a. They don't really sleep in, so it is in my families best interest to have them go to sleep earlier. I at least get my peaceful evenings to help me calm down from the days activities.
AnissaFranks AnissaFranks 6 years
12-14hours?! My 2 1/2 yo sleeps 10 then wakes on her own. And she doesn't take naps anymore.. there is no way to get her to sleep longer.. believe me i've tried it all.
mikaylahJeffcoat mikaylahJeffcoat 6 years
My 2 and a half year old daughter goes to bw between 7:30 and 8pm and is up between 6 and 7:30am every morning. she very rarly wakes in the night only.sometimes if she has kicked her covers off and gets cold or if she wants a drink but she is straight back asleep. i have been really lucky though and will be the first to admit i have never had 1 problem since she was born she has slept through since she was 6 mnths old..i wish all you mummys that have sleep problems all the best and hope they all get some proper sleep for you soon....
MereanaTaorei MereanaTaorei 6 years
My son usually has 10-12 hours sleep usually 12, so around 7.30pm to bed and gets up 7.30-8.00am. Hes ok with that anything different hes not and lets me know :).
BrittanyPsaras BrittanyPsaras 6 years
Mine get put to bed between 6:30 and 7:30 and don't go to sleep till 10 - 11 sometimes later! They are up by 7 and are usually pretty happy. I wish they'd go to sleep earlier do I can have some me time tho
JeanineKelby JeanineKelby 6 years
@Erin Z...Has he been checked for sleep apnea? My son did the exact same thing. I asked his ENT to order a sleep study. It turned out he had sleep apnea because of his large tonsils and even larger adenoids. After he had those taken out, his sleep improved a great deal. It turned out that the enlarged tonsils and adenoids were causing apnea (brief interruption in breathing) and his body woke him up as a result. It would be worth checking out.
LisaWhitehead64358 LisaWhitehead64358 6 years
not to be funny but my tree are all in bed by 7pm and i get up just after 7am and there tied ratty and missrable half the time so any advice would be nice thanks mum of 3
ErinZimmerman13796 ErinZimmerman13796 6 years
My 3yr old son goes to bed between 830pm everynight, and sleeps between 7 and 8am BUT he wakes up about 2 or 3 times in the night and takes him forever to fall back asleep! How do I stop or break him of that?
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