is 7 too early for baby to go to bed2

Is 7 Too Early For Baby To Go To Bed?

It turns out that having an early bedtime isn’t just a perk that gives you more time to yourself at the end of a long day (although that is a nice perk).

Research has found that bedtime as early as 6:30 or 7 pm is needed for some children. And while that doesn’t mean that all children need this early bedtime, it’s worth thinking through whether your child would benefit from an earlier bedtime. 

When children go to bed overtired, they can have a range of different responses, most of which are negative. While it might seem like your overtired child falls asleep quickly out of pure exhaustion, it can wreak havoc on their night sleep and create a cycle that is hard to break. 

All babies/children have a natural sleep window and awake windows that are developmentally in line with their age.  

When you put your baby to sleep later than their body can handle, they aren’t learning how to fall asleep on their own; rather, they are falling asleep from pure exhaustion, or even worse, having trouble falling asleep because they are over-stimulated and overtired. 

This is also why some children become hyper when overtired because they have missed their proper sleep window and have “caught another wind.” More often than not, this results in a meltdown and a bedtime battle.

Let’s take a look at why this happens (just in case you need a bit more convincing 😉

You’ve likely heard of the hormone melatonin (our sleepy hormone), which all of us (except newborns) produce as we wind down for the evening.  

Melatonin works best when we honour our sleepy cues and let it do its work by helping us enter night sleep in a rested state. Once we miss our sleep window, melatonin can easily be suppressed, and our stimulating hormone produced when we're overtired (cortisol) increases. 

So essentially, what is happening in our body gets put into fight or flight mode instead of calming down and going to sleep (what it originally wanted to do but now will struggle to do).

Below you will find a list of recommendations by age, which is based on ages and development stages. However, it is also important to honour your child’s sleepy cues (those cute little yawns and eye rubs serve a purpose). 

Here are our guidelines for appropriate bedtimes, based on age (keep in mind, the lower range aligns with the younger age):

  • Newborns (0 - 3.5 months) - 7:30-9:30 pm (later because newborn sleep cycles aren’t yet in place and circadian rhythm isn’t driving sleep)
  • 3.5 - 6 months old - 7-8:30 pm
  • 6 - 12 months old - 6-8pm
  • 12 - 24 months old - 6:-7:30pm
  • 2 - 10 years - 7-8:30 pm
  • 10 years+ - 7:30-9pm

Although these are our recommendations, all children are different and may have different needs based on their daily schedule, naps, etc. However, we don’t recommend a bedtime before 6 pm or after 8:30 pm for any age (except newborns). 

If your child falls outside of the ranges given and has trouble sleeping at night or during the day, bedtime might be the culprit!

For information on additional studies showing the benefit of early bedtimes, check out our article on consistent bedtimes. 

To sum it up, studies have shown that kids who have early bedtimes function better cognitively are less likely to be obese later in life and get an average of 78 more minutes of sleep each night. 

That last one is important because studies show that even 30-60 minutes of sleep loss in one night can cause difficulties with concentration.

Regardless of when your child goes to bed now, it is never too late to shift bedtime a bit earlier. This hopefully allows for a bit more time alone for you too, parents! 

FAQs About Baby Bed

Quality sleep happens before midnight for most babies (and adults!), so don't be afraid of an earlier bedtime. Find your child's “sweet sleep spot”, then stick to it – for babies younger than 12 weeks, bedtime should be around 9 PM to 10 PM. Babies older than 12 weeks do best with bedtime around 7 PM to 8 PM.

Bedtime should be no later than 7:00-8:00 pm. If you are finding that the baby starts to wake frequently at night or earlier in the morning than usual, try scaling back bedtime even more, possibly to even 2.5-3 hours after the last nap ends.

An ideal bedtime for a three-month-old baby is between 7:30 – 9:30 pm. This is based on the developing circadian rhythm (or body clock) of a three-month-old and also fits in with the 9 – 11 hours of nighttime sleep needed.

Newborns (0 - 3.5 months) - 7:30-9:30pm (later because newborn sleep cycles aren't yet in place and circadian rhythm isn't driving sleep) 3.5 - 6 months old - 7-8:30 pm. 6 - 12 months old - 6-8pm. 12 - 24 months old - 6:-7:30pm.

For babies, early to bed does not mean early to rise! Most babies sleep longer with an earlier bedtime. Many parents are afraid to put their baby to bed so early, thinking they will then face a 5 a.m. wake up call.

Know When Should Put The Baby To Bed In The Nigth

As mentioned in the first paragraph, it is of utmost importance that the stretch from the last nap to bedtime is not too long as this will cause fragmented night sleep.  

Below, we will outline how long that last stretch should be, and as well, how many naps on average babies need at each age.  

Keep in mind that if the last nap was very short, you might need to shorten the awake time even more.  

0-2 months 

Babies this age sleep around the clock and have four or more naps every day. Bedtime in newborns is naturally late, usually around 9:00 pm or later, but it is important to start moving the bedtime earlier, around 6/8 weeks. By two months, the baby's last nap should be ending by 6:30 pm. Bedtime should be around 6:30-8:30 pm and about 1-2 hours after the last nap ends.

Three months

is 7 too early for baby to go to bed3

Babies at this age should be on a solid four nap schedule, with the last nap of the day ending by 5:30 pm. Bedtime should be no later than 1.5-1.75 hours after the last nap.  

Remember, this is asleep by time, so we want to put the baby down 15 minutes before this to allow him time to fall asleep. So, this means that bedtime should not be much later than 7:15 pm.

4 months 

This is when babies will transition from 4 naps to 3 naps. This might mean that your baby will flip-flop back and forth between 4 naps and three naps depending on what time she woke up in the morning and the quality of the day's naps.  

If it is a three nap day, you will likely need an early bedtime. Do not be afraid of an early bedtime during nap transitions - it will be your saving grace! At four months, all naps should be ending by 5:00 pm, with bedtime happening about 2-2.25 hours after the last nap ends.  

So again, this means that bedtime should not be much later than 7:15 pm.

Five months

Babies at this age should be solidly on a three nap schedule. All naps should be ending by 5:00 pm, and bedtime should occur no later than 2-2.5 hours after the last nap ends.  

This means that bedtime will be around 7:00-7:30 pm which is a very age-appropriate bedtime considering you just lost one entire sleep period when you transitioned from 4 naps to 3, and babies this age still need 11-12 hours of night sleep with up to 2-night feedings.

6/7 months

Babies still need three naps at this age, and most stay on a three nap schedule until 8/9 months of age. Naps should be ending by 5:00 pm, with bedtime happening 2.25-2.75 hours after the last nap ends. So a bedtime of no later than 7:45 pm is age-appropriate.

8/9 months 

This is the age where most babies will drop their 3rd nap and move to a two nap schedule. This nap transition also means that we want to use a super early bedtime on the days when we can't fit in a 3rd nap or the baby refuses it entirely.  

Do not be afraid of putting your child down to the bed as early as 4:45 pm. This does not mean that the baby will be up at 4:00 in the morning! Remember, less day sleep = more night sleep. 

You have just lost an entire sleep period, so the baby will need to make up for this sleep loss during the night. Our goal with babies younger than nine months is to protect night sleep at all costs.  

There is no advantage to a late catnap and thus a later bedtime if the baby is up every 3-4 hours at night crying. All naps should be ending by 4:00 pm, with bedtime occurring 3-3.75 hours after the last nap ends. This means a bedtime no later than 7:30/7:45 pm.

10-18 months

This section is for babies within this age range but still on two naps. Most babies keep two naps until 13-18 months, with the average being 15 months.  

Do not be too quick to drop that second nap, as the longer we can hold off this transition, the smoother it will be. 

 Again, all naps should be ending by 4:00 pm, with bedtime happening between 3-4 hours after the last nap ends. Note: we would want to use the lower end of that range for younger babies closer to 10-12 months.  

As we approach the 2-1 nap transition, the afternoon nap may shrink and become less restful.  

This means that you will want to shorten the time between this nap and bedtime to keep the baby well-rested. Bedtime should be no later than 7:00-8:00 pm.  

If you are finding that the baby starts to wake frequently at night or earlier in the morning than usual, try scaling back bedtime even more, possibly to even 2.5-3 hours after the last nap ends.  

This is a normal pattern as we get closer to dropping the second nap.

Why an Early Bedtime Is Important to Babies and Toddlers

Babies and children need lots of sleep. In fact, by their second birthday, a well-rested child has been asleep for more hours than awake. 

Newborns follow an irregular schedule, but by six months, most children have developed a regular sleep-wake cycle influenced by daylight or circadian rhythm. 

A consistent, early bedtime is the only way to honour that internal clock and ensure your child gets enough sleep. It turns out there are multiple benefits to that appropriate bedtime.

While a child can get the proper sleep at a later bedtime if they “sleep in," there’s just one problem — they usually don’t. A young child’s circadian rhythm naturally wakes them up from 6:00 to 7:30 a.m. Too late a bedtime means they’ll still be awake, but with less sleep.

It is scientifically proven that babies in a consistent routine (including a reasonable bedtime) will fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Sleep fundamentals like this can make a huge difference to your baby’s sleep.

Just as children naturally rise early, they also tend to have a tired window around 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. In most cases, if they go to bed, then it will be easier for them to go to sleep and ideally get the right amount of sleep overnight. For younger children, their daytime naps will make up the rest of their sleep in 24 hours.

That Drowsy Window Matters

Babies and young children cycle between REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement). The NREM sleep stage is vital, while the REM cycle is active and when dreaming occurs. 

As adults, we are not always aware that we wake slightly and re-settle at night between cycles. Babies and children do too, and when they learn to self-soothe, they can fall back asleep without fully waking or crying.

An overtired child who stays up past their natural bedtime window will have a harder time self-soothing. A child who can fall asleep on their own at bedtime is also better able to calm himself overnight.

Children Thrive on Routine

This is well-accepted by teachers and caregivers in classrooms and parents who use a calming bedtime routine. When young child knows what to expect, they feel secure. When bedtime is the same time each night, they know what’s coming. 

A bath, storey, cuddles, and a kiss goodnight are pretty common ways to assure a calm environment before bed. If bedtime is late, those steps might be skipped or rushed, resulting in a missed drowsy window and a child who may not be ready for sleep.

If you’re looking to establish a routine, this Smart Sleep Coaching App from Lumi has a full program of video tutorials combined with in-app tracking tools which will guide you step-by-step to a routine that works for your baby and you!

Behavioural and Cognitive Connections

is 7 too early for baby to go to bed

In a study of 18-month-olds in Japan, children's neurodevelopment with late bedtimes (after 10 p.m.) was worse than that of children who went to bed earlier.

Another study looked at the cognitive test scores of 7-year-old girls in the UK. They traced bedtimes since age three and found that the children with irregular bedtimes scored significantly lower.

It’s Not Just Mental

A 2009 study found that disruption of circadian rhythms can affect metabolic health. Timing meals and sleeping in a regular pattern that follows the light and dark tends to help regulate insulin and glucose numbers and reduce the risk of hypertension.

There is also evidence linking a later bedtime in adolescents to a higher BMI. The study found significant links between later average bedtimes during the workweek even when they eliminated factors like screen time and exercise.

Early Bedtimes Benefit the Whole Family

Set that age-appropriate bedtime and count backwards to figure out when dinner should be. Then plan a nice, simple, calming routine so that you hit that drowsy window. 

You’ll soon find your child resists less, wakes less often during the night, and is easier to get along with all day.

Once it’s a routine, it can be a relaxing and enjoyable time for you and your child to bond. Not only that, you might find yourself with some child-free time before your bedtime.

Early Bedtime vs. Late Bedtime For Babies and Toddlers: Which Is Best?

Bedtime is a big deal, parents….as you probably know, bedtime can set the tone for how the rest of your night will go! A peaceful bedtime routine – one that induces sleep and allows your child to fall asleep without your help – is a great way to encourage sleeping through the night.

The timing of your baby or toddler’s bedtime matters too, of course. We’ve shared recommended baby and toddler bedtimes by age in this cool printable chart, but we still hear often from parents who wonder exactly when it’s best to put their little ones down for bed. 

Is an early bedtime a good idea? Or is it better to keep your child up later in the evening?

We have answers; keep reading to learn more about our philosophy of when bedtime should happen in your home.

Bedtime For Babies

Once your baby is about 2-3 months old, you can start working towards a more fixed bedtime – somewhere between 8 and 11 p.m. Now, this bedtime probably seems late, but that’s intentional. 

At this age, you want your baby’s bedtime to time up with yours. Why? Because you’ll want your baby’s longest stretch of sleep at night (ideally the stretch of sleep right after the bedtime feeding) to coincide with your first stretch of nighttime sleep.

Once your baby is about four months old, you’ll shift to an earlier bedtime: from 4 – 10 months. You’ll want bedtime to happen between 6 and 7/7:30 p.m. This early bedtime might seem counterintuitive – after all, if you put your baby to bed at six or 6:30, won’t he be up at dawn? Keep in mind, however, that sleep begets sleep. 

A baby who is in bed relatively early is usually a baby who is rested and not overly tired and who will sleep soundly and wake at a reasonable hour. A baby who goes to bed late, however, may be overtired at bedtime. If that’s the case, it’s more likely that he’ll wake too early the next morning.

Around ten months, you may need to start shifting bedtime back a bit so that it’s happening closer to 7:30. Why? Because by this time, most children are sleeping through the night, which means they’re getting plenty of night sleep, but they are also napping twice per day for 2-3 hours. 

If your child is taking nice, long naps during the day, you may need to compensate for that with a slightly later bedtime. This will hold through the 12-month mark.

Bedtime For Toddlers Who Nap

From 12 months until about 15-18 months, your toddler will likely continue taking two naps during the day. While your toddler is on a 2-nap schedule, it may be best to stick to a later bedtime of around 7:30 or 8 p.m.

Somewhere between 15-18 months, your toddler will transition from 2 naps to 1 nap. During and immediately after this transition, your toddler will probably need an earlier bedtime as she adjusts to just one nap. Otherwise, you may see a drastic increase in night-waking and a need to do more sleep training.

Go ahead and bump bedtime back up to 6:30 or 7 for a while, if it seems necessary. And, on days when your toddler’s afternoon nap is unusually short, you may need to use the earlier bedtime.

However, once your toddler’s one-nap schedule is well-established, you will likely need to shift gradually towards a later bedtime. Between 2 and 3 years of age, if your toddler is still taking a solid afternoon nap, you may need to bump bedtime back as late as 8:30 or even 9, depending on when the nap ends. 

This is a situation in which a late bedtime is advisable! We see many parents who continue to try and put their older toddlers to bed at 7 p.m., only to be majorly frustrated when said toddler won’t fall asleep for 2 hours! 

But remember, your older toddler needs about 5 hours of awake time between the end of the nap and bedtime. So, be sure to time bedtime accordingly.

 

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