the best time for putting a child to sleep
Last Updated on June 6, 2022 by Peter

When Is The Best Time For Putting A Child To Sleep?

Deciding what time your kids should go to bed can be a bit of a nightmare for parents. So much depends on your child’s age, personality, energy level and individual sleep pattern, so getting it right can be a little tricky. Putting a child to sleep is a lot of work, especially if they are energetic.

It can be tough to figure out exactly how much sleep your kid needs and when they should go to sleep. Especially because your child’s slumber needs will change as he or she gets older. In other words, what worked perfectly at two years of age might fail at three.

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    What are the benefits of a bedtime routine?

    Your baby will be more relaxed if they know what’s coming next. The more relaxed they are, the more likely they’ll go to bed easily and fall asleep quickly. Stick to your routine the best you can even when you’re not home. It can make it easier for your baby to settle down in unfamiliar surroundings.

    The sooner you establish a bedtime routine, the better. When your baby is as young as 6 or 8 weeks old, start following a set pattern every night. They’ll quickly come to appreciate the consistency and predictability.

    A bedtime ritual is often good for parents, too. It’s a special time set aside for you to spend with your baby, something you can plan on.

    an image of a mother and a child studying together

    How can we establish a good bedtime routine?

    Start early enough in the evening so you have time to get through the sequence before bedtime. For young babies especially, you may find that it’s best to keep it short and simple. Washing up, diaper and pajamas, and a story or song in the rocking chair.

    And while you can certainly start your ritual in the bathroom or the living room, it should end in your baby’s bedroom. It’s important to teach your baby that their room is a nice place to be, not just where he’s “banished” at bedtime.

    What kind of things should we include in our routine?

    The following bedtime routine ideas are ones that have worked for other parents. Maybe you’ll find something here that’s right for you.

    Be active

    Sometimes it helps to let your child spend all that pent up energy before you try to settle them down for the night. Feel free to dance around with them to a favorite song, give them a “horsey” ride, or let them bounce in the bouncer if they are in the mood. As long as you follow up any high activity with something calmer and quieter before they go to sleep, it can be the first step toward bedtime.

    Take them to the bath

    One of the most popular parts of many bedtime rituals is a bath. Sitting in warm water can be a soothing experience. Getting your baby warm, clean and dry is a great way to ease them into bedtime. A bath is also a wonderful way for the father to spend some special time with the baby, especially if baby is still breastfeeding. If your baby gets excited during baths or doesn’t enjoy them, it’s probably better to leave them out of the nighttime ritual. Babies don’t need a bath more than once or twice a week, so don’t feel bad about forgoing it if it’s not a pleasure for you both.

    a baby is having a bath before bed time

    Do your chores

    Your baby’s getting-ready-for-bed routine can include:

    • washing their face and hands
    • wiping their gums or brushing their teeth
    • changing their diaper
    • getting into their pajamas

    It’s a good idea to start the tooth brushing habit as early as possible, so your baby gets used to it. It can start as early as when the first few teeth start growing out.

    Play a game

    Playing a quiet game in the living room or on the floor of your baby’s bedroom is a great way to spend some fun time with them before it’s time for bed. Your game can be as simple as a round of peek-a-boo. Whatever entertains your baby without getting them overly excited is fine.

    Another fun idea is to hide something in your child’s crib or bed for them to find before you lay them down. It can be a toy, a postcard, an interesting object, and then talk to them about it. Just make sure you take it out of the the crib before you go.

    a baby playing on a floor

    Have a chat

    Bedtime is a nice chance for parents to spend some time talking to their baby. You don’t have to wait until your baby’s old enough to give you a narrative of the day’s events. Simply review their day for them.

    Say a "good night" to everything

    Many babies enjoy being carried around. Especially when it’s time for saying goodnight to favorite toys, people, and other objects. Similarly, the baby rabbit and his mother do this in Goodnight Moon.

    Read a bedtime story

    Rivaling the bath as an all-time favorite nighttime ritual is reading a bedtime story. Not only will your baby learn to recognize new words, but he’ll also benefit from time spent with you. Studies have shown that language skills and even intelligence can depend on a baby’s daily exposure to a large vocabulary.

    Sing a song

    Singing a lullaby is a time-tested way to help a sleepy baby drift off. Your baby loves hearing her favorite sound – your voice – and the soft, soothing melody may calm them. If you can’t remember the words or tune to your favorite ditties, turn to our lullaby library for a refresher course.

    an image of a mother singing to her baby

    Play some music

    Playing a CD or tape of lullabies, classical music, or other kids’ favorites while you settle your baby to sleep – and then leaving it on at low volume after you leave – can help ease the transition from being awake to falling asleep. A sound machine may soothe them, too, with the added benefit of drowning out outside noise.

    Ideal sleep times during children's growth

    As you’re already aware, the ideal duration of sleep and the ideal time of taking children to bed change during children’s growth. In this table, we’ll present you how much hours of sleep children need and when is the best time to put them to bed depending on how old they are.

    AgeHours of sleepBedtimeNotes
    Newborn15-18N.A.New babies don’t yet have any circadian rhythms, and they typically sleep in short spurts of two to four hours throughout the day and night.
    1-4 months14-158:00 – 11:00These babies are still developing and feeding often throughout the night. Bedtime starts moving earlier by four months.
    4-8 months14-155:30 – 7:30Circadian rhythms are emerging. Regular naps (ideally around 9, 12, 3) and an earlier bedtime help these babies get the sleep they need for significant physical and mental development. Bedtime may be on the early side of this range if naps are missed or short.
    8-10 months12-155:30 – 7:00Babies this age may only take two naps (9am, 1pm). Bedtime should be no later than 3.5 hrs after second nap ends. Bedtime may move earlier to compensate for lack of third nap.
    10-15 months12-146:00- 7:30Babies may be transitioning to only one nap in the afternoon, so bedtime may need to move earlier for a while. Bedtime should be no later than 4 hours after waking from nap.
    15 months – 3 years12-146:00 – 7:30Naps may end during this period, or be inconsistent. Move bedtime earlier to help adjustment to no nap.
    3-6 years11-136:00 – 8:00Your child will likely drop the afternoon nap. Once your child is no longer napping, he will need an extra hour of sleep at night, so adjust bedtime accordingly.
    7-12 years10-117:30 – 9:00School age children are still experiencing enormous growth, are very active, and require a lot of sleep. Adequate sleep helps with school performance, behavior, attention, memory, and more.
    Teenagers9+See note

    Many teens need to be up early for school. Count backwards from wake time to find the bedtime that ensures they are getting enough sleep. Keep in mind it takes kids an average of 15 minutes to fall asleep, and likely more if they have a lot on their minds.

    an image of a mother playing with a baby

    Putting a child to sleep is easier with routine

    Deciding when to put your child to bed is a difficult decision. It depends of many factors, like your children’s age, energy level, personality and sleeping patterns. Moreover, your children’s sleeping needs changes as they get older. So, it happens that whatever worked for two month olds won’t work for three months. To solve this situation, you need to establish a good bedtime routine. Have appropriate activities which will prepare your baby for sleep. It may be playing games, taking a bath, reading a bedtime story or saying good night to toys, objects and people. Of course, ideal sleep hours change from month to month of growth, but as your child gets older it will establish steady sleeping habits.

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