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Your Baby's Ideal Bedtime By Age: A Guide For Parents

baby's bedtime

With a baby in your home, sleep is a hot topic. Even though you might not be getting much shut-eye these days, remember that your little one needs lots of sleep to stay healthy and happy. You may need to adjust your baby’s bedtime to help them get the sleep they need.

In this article, we’ll help you calculate your baby’s ideal bedtime based on their age and sleep needs. Then, we’ll offer a few tips to help your little one doze off. After all, knowing what time your baby should go to bed doesn’t mean it’s always easy to get them to sleep!

Your Baby’s Bedtime By Age

 Mom putting baby to sleep

Plenty of sleep is essential for healthy babies. While you might be able to get by on just a few hours of sleep (hello, parenthood), keep in mind that babies and children need more sleep than adults.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that regular sleep deprivation in kids can cause a cranky day as well as behavioral and health problems, such as difficulty concentrating, hypertension, obesity, headaches, and depression.

On the flip side, sufficient sleep is good for the immune system, school performance, and mental health.

So, what about your baby?

The amount of sleep your baby needs depends on their age. And the amount of sleep they need should determine their bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) made recommendations regarding how many hours of sleep children need based on their age. These recommendations have been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and they’re what we stick to as well.

Since we don’t know your schedule, we can’t tell you exactly what time your baby should go to bed. But below, we’ll give you the information you need to calculate your baby’s bedtime according to what time you’re up and at ‘em in the morning.

Newborn Sleep

Let’s talk about newborn sleep. The truth is, there’s not necessarily an ideal bedtime for newborns for two reasons.

First, their body has not yet developed a circadian rhythm. This is the internal clock that helps us differentiate day from night and know when we should be awake and asleep. Babies develop a circadian rhythm around three months of age.

Second, your newborn needs to eat quite often! Because of that, they don’t usually sleep for longer than two to four hours at a time.

Newborns won’t really get into a sleep pattern, and that’s okay. At this stage, keep them comfortable, well-fed, and freshly diapered when they’re not sleeping, and your baby is good to go.

Since they’re fresh out of the womb, make them feel secure as they snooze by wrapping your little one in an Organic Swaddle Blanket. These versatile blankets are made with 100% breathable organic cotton muslin to provide gentle, ultra-soft comfort.

How many hours do newborns actually sleep? Around 16 or 18 hours in every 24-hour period. For more information about your newborn’s sleep schedule and patterns, click here.

Your Baby’s Bedtime: 4 To 12 Months Old

 baby's bedtime

The AASM recommends that babies between four months and one year old sleep for 12 to 16 hours a day, including naps. This means if your baby naps for two hours during the day, they’ll need anywhere between 10 and 14 hours of sleep that night.

Part of knowing your baby’s ideal bedtime is getting to know your little one. Since every baby is different, your baby might need more or less sleep than the next baby to be happy, alert, and healthy.

As you get an idea of exactly how much rest your baby needs, calculate their bedtime based on the number of hours of sleep they need along with the time they typically wake up or the time you have to wake them up.

If you know your baby needs 12 hours of sleep at night and you get them up at 7:00 a.m. in order to get out of the house, your little one should be drifting off by 7:00 p.m.

Your Baby’s Bedtime: 1 To 2 Years Old

For little ones from one to two years old, the AASM recommends 11 to 14 hours of sleep, including naps.

Keep in mind that as your baby gets older, they will nap less often. This means they’re getting less sleep during the day. Your one-year-old might be napping twice a day, but by the time they’re two, your baby is probably only taking one midday snooze.

Just as we mentioned earlier, take their nap schedule into account when planning your baby’s bedtime. This is especially important as your baby’s daytime sleep decreases.

If your baby has a bad day and doesn’t nap as they normally do, don’t be afraid of an early bedtime — even as early as 6:00 p.m.! When it comes to bedtime, earlier is almost always better than later.

Think about what time you have to get your toddler up for daycare (or whatever your days hold) and calculate their bedtime back.

Remember that bedtime is the time they fall asleep, which means the bedtime routine should start well before the time that your baby needs to be dozing off.

Tips To Promote Healthy Sleep

 Mom and baby in matching outfits

Now you have a better idea of what time to put your baby to sleep to get the beauty rest they need. But — and this is a big but! — knowing what time your baby should go to bed doesn’t mean they will fall asleep without a fight.

So, we’d like to leave you with a few tips to promote healthy sleep and help your baby drift off to dreamland when the time comes.

Set A Good Example

Before we jump into tips that apply directly to your baby, the first tip has to do with you. As with all things in life, it’s important to set a good example for your kids.

Create a healthy culture of sleep in your home. Set limits for your older kids when it comes to sleep and bedtime, and put yourself to bed, too!

Don’t Keep Your Baby Up

You might keep your baby up late sometimes, assuming that an overtired baby will sleep soundly all night. That’s not necessarily true, and your well-laid plan might even backfire on you.

An overtired baby can actually have more trouble going to sleep once they finally get to bed.

Watch For Your Baby’s Sleep Cues

Instead of pushing your baby to stay awake, watch for their sleep cues and put them to bed when they’re tired. Sleep cues are the signs that your baby is ready to sleep and can include yawning, rubbing their eyes, staring off into space, and becoming less interactive.

What about crying? It’s a late sleep cue. Don’t wait until your baby is crying to start the bedtime routine!

Create A Soothing Environment

 baby's bedtime

Create a soothing environment to help your baby relax and fall asleep. Outfit your little one’s crib with a comfortable yet safe mattress, such as our 100% breathable Crib Mattress.

This washable crib mattress is five and a half inches thick and features a soft, quilted removable cover. The Wovenaire Core inside provides just the right firmness to keep babies safe and is comfy enough for toddlers.

When it’s bedtime, dim the lights, adjust the thermostat as needed, and keep the crib free of toys.

What should go in your baby’s bed? Only a fitted sheet and your little one. It’s bedtime, not playtime, and the crib should be a safe space to snooze.

Click here to continue reading about how to create the perfect sleep environment for your baby.

Stick To A Bedtime Routine

Kids thrive on routine, and this principle applies to your baby’s bedtime. Create a bedtime routine — it could include activities like taking a bath, reading a book, and a goodnight kiss — and stick to it.

A routine will help your baby clue into the fact that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep.

Limit Nighttime Screen Use

You may have heard that you should limit screen time at night. That’s true, and it goes for your little one as well. If your baby or toddler watches videos or movies, do away with all screens at least one hour before you put them to bed.

Practice Safe Sleep

Last but certainly not least, look out for your little one while they rest by following safe sleep guidelines. Not sure what that entails? Click here to find out.

Your Baby’s Bedtime And The Sleep They Need

 Baby laying on back in a crib

Babies snooze a lot. They need plenty of sleep for all the growing they’re doing! By establishing your baby’s bedtime, you can help them regulate their sleep-wake cycle and develop exactly how their little body needs.

Keep in mind that your baby’s bedtime is based on how many hours of sleep little ones need: 12 to 16 hours a day for babies four months to one year old and 11 to 14 hours for little ones that are one to two years old.

To calculate their bedtime, subtract the time they nap from the total hours of sleep they need and work backward from their wake-up time. No matter what time you put your baby to bed, follow our tips for healthy sleep and put your baby to sleep on a Newton Baby Crib Mattress.

With the right bedtime, along with a soothing, calming environment, your baby can get the sleep they need to grow big and strong!