early bedtime for kids

Early Bedtime

The Why, the When and the How to Use an Early Bedtime to Help your Kids Sleep Well

I get a lot of questions on how to avoid the cycle of overtiredness for babies, toddlers and little kids. An early bedtime is a great tool to help your child get caught up on sleep. For the discussion below, when I say early bedtime I am referring to an earlier than normal bedtime. This can help you avoid your little one getting into a cycle of overtiredness, which can lead to difficulty falling asleep at bedtime and for naps, increased wakings and early morning risings.

It can feel a bit wrong to put your child to bed earlier than normal because you don’t want them to wake up earlier in the morning. But baby sleep is pretty counterintuitive and often an early bedtime can even have the opposite effect!

Regular Bedtime

For babies through school-aged children, a regular bedtime of 6:00 to 8:00 PM is appropriate. You want to use a consistent bedtime on a normal basis. The specific time within the range mentioned above can depend on a number of factors, including your family’s schedule, the time your little one needs to be awake in the morning to allow for the total hours of sleep your little one needs at night, your little one’s natural circadian rhythms and more.

While keeping a consistent bedtime is important, there are scenarios that call for an earlier than usual bedtime to help your kiddo get the sleep they need to thrive.

Why does an early bedtime help?

Let’s first start with why an early bedtime can help your baby, toddler or little kid get the sleep they need

Doesn’t disrupt circadian rhythm

Your body’s circadian rhythm is primarily responsible for helping you go to sleep at night. It is the internal process that regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycles over a 24-hour period. Letting your child nap late and then try to put them to bed later than normal can throw off their body clock. This in turn leads to more sleep challenges down the road.

Gets baby to sleep before they get (even more) overtired

When we stay awake through the window during which our body and brain are tired and ready to go to sleep, it causes a stress response.  Our bodies assume we need to be awake and flood our systems with stimulating hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Avoiding this situation is what we aim to do with an early bedtime. (For more on overtiredness in babies check this out.)

Helps baby get more deep sleep

The beginning of the night is when the majority of our deep sleep happens. The second half of the night is when more REM sleep happens. Both deep sleep and REM sleep have a lot of benefits and are both important. Deep sleep is a time for our brains to restore themselves after all the mental activity of the day. Approximately 80% of human growth hormone is secreted during deep sleep as well. Deep sleep helps our little ones learn, grow and feel refreshed.

There is an increase of deep sleep after a period of sleep deprivation, so when your child is overtired or has a sleep debt, getting them to bed a bit earlier can help them get more of this deep, slow wave sleep to help restore their brains and bodies to optimal functioning and energy.

Our circadian rhythm controls our wake time

You’ve all heard the stories and seen the memes – “I put my kid to bed 5 hours later than normal and they slept in 6 minutes later this morning.”

The time we wake up in the morning is closely tied to our circadian rhythm. This is why your child doesn’t seem to sleep in, even when they went to bed late or are exhausted upon waking up. It is also why you may feel wide awake at the same time as usual on a day when you do have the opportunity to sleep in.

tired toddler go to bed early

When to use an early bedtime

Here are some examples of situations that may warrant an early bedtime.

Short naps

If your child is taking short naps that are between 30 and 45 minutes long, or about one sleep cycle, they are likely missing the restorative benefits of deep daytime sleep. Getting them to bed a bit earlier than normal can help them avoid getting into a cycle of overtiredness which leads to more short naps, more wakes up, a harder time falling asleep and even worse quality of sleep.

Poor sleep the night (or nights) before

Poor sleep last night can lead to cranky little one today. A slightly earlier bedtime today can help avoid continued crankiness tomorrow by allowing your little one to catch up on the sleep they may have missed the night before.

Sleep schedule exceptions during the day or days prior

Missed naps, late nights, or a combo. You’ve got to live your life and sometimes that leads to the need to make exceptions to your child’s sleep schedule or routine. Just like in the scenario above, an early bedtime can allow your baby, toddler or little kid to catch up on missed sleep.

Extra stimulation

Babies and toddlers are learning and taking in SO much every single day. If they had an extra exciting day, maybe grandma and grandpa were there to play with them or they played with a bunch of their little friends, it can be exhausting for them. Putting them to bed a bit early can help their bodies and brains process the excitement and activity from the day.

New experiences

This one comes up on vacation quite a bit. Lots of new experiences, people and things to see and explore. Making exceptions to your child’s sleep schedule often happen during vacation as well. So putting your child to bed early when you can on your trip or for a few nights when you get home can help your little one’s brain and body process these new experiences.

Baby seems extra fatigued

Sometimes your baby may just seem plain exhausted even if you can’t pinpoint something specific that has caused them to be more tired than normal. Read your baby’s cues and listen to your toddler who says they are tired. Putting them to bed a bit earlier than normal that night is not going to throw off their sleep or make them wake up earlier. It may even have the opposite effect. 

putting your kids to bed early

How early is early bedtime?

Typically, I recommend a bedtime of up to an hour earlier than normal. Except in extreme circumstances, I find trying even earlier can backfire with it being difficult for your child to fall asleep because their body and body clock is not ready. Depending on the reason for the early bedtime and the level of exhaustion or overtiredness for your baby, somewhere between 30-60 minutes early is appropriate. However, even 15-20 minutes early can make a big difference, especially for babies and toddlers.

As always, if your little one isn’t sleeping well with or without an early bedtime and you aren’t sure what to do or if you should change things, you can schedule a free evaluation call with me to chat through your specific situation, your sleep goals and how I can help.

Cheers to healthy, happy sleep,


61 thoughts on “Early Bedtime”

  1. Hi, thank you for the advice! I have a four-month-old who currently is struggling with naps. She takes 45 minute or 30 minute naps, sometimes just three a day! I feel like I am putting her to bed pretty early, at six or 630. She will sleep until five then I feed and put her back down. Sometime she will wake up 45 minutes later and sometime she will sleep till seven. She is fully falling asleep on her own for naps and night, but iit sometimes takes her a full hour to fall asleep even after being awake for 1.5 to 2 hours. I am at a loss. She does not eat very well and is just now at 12 pounds. She is a third child, so she does do a few catnaps out in the ergo, and sadly is my fussiest child. I feed every three hours. I cannot really get her on the floor our schedule with the short naps. Do you have any advice? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi MK! Awesome that your little one is falling asleep on her own for nights and naps and sleeping well overnight. It sounds like she is probably getting the total sleep that she needs with all that sleep overnight. With the catnaps in the carrier, it is likely lowering her sleep pressure enough that when she does go down for her actual naps, she doesn’t have enough to extend those naps. With that in mind, as she handles longer and longer awake times and doesn’t fall asleep in the carrier + getting older naps should lengthen on their own. Those short naps are really frustrating, but hang in there and it should get better soon! If you have any questions or want to chat more, feel free to reach out!

      1. Thank you so much for your help! She has started taking two nice long crib naps every day! It is a game-changer. I guess sometimes it just takes time and being home a bit more! Now she has started waking up more at night, but I am hoping it is a phase and she will grow out of it soon!

        1. Hi MK! Happy to help. I’m so glad to hear naps have lengthened. Naps definitely take time. Keep an eye on not too much daytime sleep leading to the wake ups. Hopefully it is short lived and something developmental going on to cause it. If I can help in any other ways, please reach out!

  2. How can I change my babies sleep cycle ? She’s been fighting her afternoon nap (14 months old) and it’s pushing her bed time late since it’s taking longer to get her to nap. She wakes up around 8 am and still wakes to night nurse. We have a plan to night wean after a trip in a week and a half so I think that will help, I just don’t know if it’s time to drop to one nap. Thanks !

    1. Hi Maggie! I recommend waiting until she has been fighting her afternoon nap 4-5 times a week for at least 2 weeks before making the transition to 1 nap. In your situation, I would wait at least until you get back from your trip before making the switch as it can be difficult and with the trip and all the new stimulation and excitement she may get back on track with 2 naps. You can also check out my guide for transitioning to one nap here – https://sleeploveandhappiness.com/2021/05/04/transition-to-1-nap/
      If you have any questions or want to chat more about naps or night weaning, please reach out and we can set up a time to chat!

  3. My 4 month old sleeps from 8-5 am with minimal wake ups. We implemented a bedtime routine at 7 weeks and she’s been great. However the post few weeks she’s been fighting naps like crazy. She takes 30-45 minutes naps and sometimes it takes forever to put her down. We’ve tried lengthening her wake times to 2 hours see if she possibly isn’t that tired but we still have issues. Or she won’t sleep unless it’s on one of us and wakes up when we put her down. Everything I’ve read says she should only be having 1.5-2 hour wake times. She frequently refuses her last nap of the day and so it throws off her bedtime because I don’t want her to be up for 3 hours at a time. Does she nap shorter because she sleeps longer? Can she stay awake longer? I’m so confused and frustrated

    1. Hi SJ! Are you seeing sleep cues before you put her down? If not, it would be helpful to really try to observe and learn her sleepy cues and then put her down when you start see early sleep cues, such as eyes glazed, decreased movement/animation or red eyebrows. She may be able to go longer than 2 hours, it likely won’t be a lot longer, but small increments can make a difference at this age. Hang in there and reach out if you want to chat more!

  4. Hi Our 3 month old had been sleeping from 730pm to 130am and waking up to feed, and then again at around 430am. He has started waking up 4 times a night and feeds for around ten mins then falls asleep. Any tips on how to get him to sleep for longet? Many thanks Louise

    1. Hi Loiuse! The more frequent wake ups are common at this age, especially with the 4 month sleep regression and maturation of sleep cycles coming up. There is a lot going on developmentally at 3 months/ Trying to get through some of those wake ups without a feed — as long as it doesn’t seem like he is going through his growth spurt because he could really need those feeds so pay attention to if he is actively eating– with cuddling, rocking, etc can help him drop those wake ups. Once he hits 4 months old, you can start working more intentionally on independent sleep which will also help him extend his sleep stretches. Hang in there! I talk to a lot of parents going through the same thing and it will get better! Please reach out if you want to chat more!

  5. My 6.5 month old has been struggling with nights lately. His naps are decent, first 2 are between an hour and hour and 20 minutes. Last one usually is about half hour to 45 minutes. He usually goes to bed between 7 and 730pm. I would love for him to wake up at 7, but it seems he is always awake around 630 am… so I wait it out u til 7 to start his day. Would that be the culprit ? Should I start his day as soon as he wakes up? I’m afraid that if I do that, he will have an extra early bedtime and then Wake even earlier the next morning.. might I add that he has been waking around 3 am and is nearly impossible to get him back down unless rocked, sometimes it takes an hour and a half and I have no idea why … help?

    1. Hi Jessica! Unfortunately, 6:30 AM is a pretty normal wake up time for babies. Sounds like he is getting 11-11.5 hours of sleep at night, which is great and so he is likely maxing out on his sleep need at 6:30. With the 3AM wake up, there are a lot of factors that could be contributing — he may be ready to transition to 2 naps (would need more info to advise you on if this is the case but it is a possibility), he may need to learn how to fall asleep independently if he isn’t already, it may be a developmental leap, etc. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  6. My boy has just turned 2 , he’s never been a good sleeper he wakes up between half 4 and half 5 everyday , he goes be between 6 and 7 , usually has a naps once in the day for about hour to 2 hours .
    He is still not sleeping through he wakes up a few times and wakes ups early , he is tired most days !

    I am so stuck and exhausted

    1. Hi Sian! I’m sorry to hear you are feeling stuck and exhausted. I know how hard that is. Is your little guy falling asleep independently? If not, that is likely what he needs to get past the night wake ups and move towards resolving the early wake ups. I work with families 1-on-1 to create personalized sleep plans to help kiddos learn the skills to fall asleep and stay asleep independently. I’d love to chat more about how I can help to your ‘never been a good sleeper’ into a great sleeper! You can schedule a free call here: sleeploveandhappiness.com/scheduling. I hope to chat with you soon!

  7. Hi! I’m wondering if we are creating bad habits. Our 4 month old naturally falls into her bedtime sleep around 10:30/11pm and sleeps through until about 5am, nurses and sleeps until about 7am nurses and sleeps until 9am. She’ll go down for another nap around noon for an hour or two. Her next nap is around 3 for about an hour sometimes two. Her last run is usually a couple 30 min naps sprinkled before she does her big sleep around 10:30/11. Is there a problem with late bed, late to rise schedules?

    1. Hi MJ! As long as she is getting the total sleep she needs, which is sounds like she is, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the late bed and late to rise schedule. I’ve seen it work for plenty of families. If in a few months you are ready to move away from it, it may take a bit to reset her body clock but isn’t impossible. If it is working for you all, then stick with it until it isn’t working well anymore! Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  8. Hi, my LO just turned 6 months last 5th of February. He sleeps at 8:30 pm and wakes up at 4:00 am. I try to put him back to sleep. He goes back to sleep but only REM until 6:30 am. He wakes up every hour during the night. He takes 3 naps, first one 45 minutes, second one 1.5 hour and third one 30 minutes. He looks tired and fussy all day. I tried to put him to bedtime earlier at 7:30 pm but he stays in REM until 8:30 pm. Please help!

    1. Hi MA! How do you put your little one to sleep? With him waking so often at night it seems like he needs help learning to fall asleep independently. His nap sleep seems pretty good for 3 naps at 6 months. Also, keep in mind that REM sleep is very important for brain development and it happens more in the second half of the night. It is also hard to tell what stage of sleep we are in unless connected to a monitor, so try not to worry about that too much. If you need help creating a plan to help him learn to fall asleep independently, please reach out. That is what I do when I work with families one-on-one. If you are interested, we can set up a free call to chat more about what is going on and how I can help. You can set a call up here – sleeploveandhappiness.com/scheduling

  9. Hello!
    My little one has just turned 10months and is sleep trained. However, since Christmas she has been waking before 6. We dropped a nap 3-2 and tried early bedtimes but she keeps waking early. There are some days where she wakes up after 6 (lucky days) but otherwise no. We’re not sure what to do next. Is it that she may be getting too much sleep in the day and has filled her quota? She doesn’t wake at any other points in the night and for that we’re super lucky. Just wondering how to extend it into the morning? Thank you!

    1. Hi Emma! If early bedtimes are not helping, she may be maxing out on her sleep at the early wake up time. At 10 months I typically see between 12-15 total hours of sleep and 2.5-3 hours of nap sleep and then 10-12 hours at night. So if her average amount of sleep is within that range, she definitely could be maxing out on sleep in the early morning. Then you would need to push her bedtime later for 30 minutes for a few days and then another 30 minutes. It can take 2-3 weeks for her wake up time in the morning to extend after pushing bedtime later because it requires her body clock shift and that takes time. Keeping her in her crib until her ideal wake up time helps with the shift once you shift bedtime. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

      1. Hi Bonnie,

        I have a 6.5 month old who does well overall with sleep/naps (independent sleeper, anywhere from 9-11.5 hrs a night and often up to 4ish hours daytime). However, depending on when he wakes in the morning, the schedule can get really wonky. It just seems like I keep falling into the 2nd nap starting around 1/1:30pm which isn’t ideal because if it’s 2 hours long he’s up at 3/3:30 and that makes bedtime early (I have tried to push him to 3 hours before bed but I don’t think this is so good for him). I don’t know if it’s better to cap the 2nd nap (like 1 hour max?) so we have room for a 3rd or put him down early. If I cap naps he gets upset (understandably) but then I feel like when we put him down early he’s getting less awake time overall in the day, so isn’t that not good? I just feel like this is a daily dilemma and I am always second guessing my choice.

        All the best,

        1. Hi KS! How long is the wake window before nap 2? You may need to start extending it slightly to get the nap closer to 2pm and get his schedule on track. Not sure what time he wakes up, but keeping him in his crib until a consistent ideal wake up time can encourage a more consistent wake up time and more consistent days. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  10. Hi!
    Thank you for this article. My 4.5 months old is now sleep trained and falls asleep independently in his crib for naptime and bedtime. His naps are often only 35-45 min long so most days he still has 4 naps. If he naps good during the day, he is fine with 3 naps. He goes to bed between 7.15 to 7.45 pm and wakes up between 6.15-6.45 am. However, when he goes down for the night, he often wakes up after 45 mins after bedtime. Then every two hrs till he is up for the day which is 3 or 4 times a night. When he wakes up at night I breastfeed him back to sleep. Half of the time he seems really hungry and feeds a lot. The other half he seems to only need the boob for soothing. If he is sleep trained, why does he wake up so often and why isn’t he able to fall asleep in the middle of the night himself? He used to be a much better sleeper. The frequent night wakings have been going on for about 4-5 weeks.
    Thanks for any advice!

    1. Hi Pavla! The wake up 1 sleep cycle or so after bedtime is often due to overtiredness, so watching his wake window before bed can really help. About 2 hrs max at this age. This extends to 2.25-2.5 hours around 5-6 months. Since he is still waking so often and nursing back to sleep it sounds like he has learned to fall asleep independently at bedtime but knows in the middle of the night it is a different situation. Using your sleep training strategy for the night wake ups when he is not hungry can help him start sleeping longer stretches and possibly drop one or both of those feeds as he learns to apply his independent sleep skills at night. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  11. Hello
    I have a 6.5 month old who naps 3x during the day ( with assistance). He used to self soothe to sleep but not anymore.
    It is difficult at night because he wakes up every two to three hours to feed still and either falls asleep at my breast or requires the soother. He co-sleeps. The crib was a no go from the start.
    It is manageable but exhausting. Any advice would be helpful.


    1. Hi Vanessa! Since your little one co-sleeps, he is used to having you there to soothe him throughout all his sleep so it can be much harder for him to self-soothe because he knows you are right there. A few things you can try to move him towards easier soothing and eventually potentially more self soothing — unlatch him before he fully falls asleep and use other tools to help get him fully to sleep like patting and shushing or a just your hand on his body. I’m glad to hear it is manageable for now because progress is slow when you are still wanting to co-sleep. If you want to get him in the crib again at some point if it becomes unmanageable you can do some crib acclimation to help him adjust and have it be a positive place for him before expecting him to sleep in there. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  12. My 4.5 month old was sleeping from 7pm-1 or 2am and then waking around 4am to feed again and then sleeping until 7:30am. However, 3 weeks ago she’s started waking after about 2-3 hrs to eat and then is up 3-4 more times and eats half of the time and the other half just to soothe. For naps, I lay her down awake and she falls asleep on her own, same for bed. But middle of the night she cannot self soothe back to sleep. Is this the 4 month regression, or what?

    I’ll be honest, her nap schedule isn’t as routine as I know it should be. I have my 3 year old at home and we live in an apartment so we have to get outside for his sake, so she cat naps in the morning and then takes a long mid day nap (2+ hours) and then the third nap is kind of a wash because she sleeps until 2ish mid day and I’m worried if I lay her down at 4pm it’s too late in the day. I put her to bed between 6:30-7:15pm.

    Last night she was up every 1.5-2 hours. But then today took two 2 hr naps.

    1. Hi Liz! Sounds like the 4 month sleep regression. She is having more light sleep which is easier to wake up from and leads to extra wake ups. Since she is an independent sleeper at sleep onset at bedtime and naps, it should pass soon if you continue to give her the chance to get back to sleep on her own at night wake ups. After soothing or feeding, put her back down awake and let her fall asleep on her own. This will help get her back on track. If you try for a week or two and its not helping, please reach out and we can chat about getting her back on track! You can schedule a free call here if you are interested and still struggling –

  13. Hi Bonnie,
    I have a 14 month who has been sleeping through the night since 4 months old, he is on 1 nap a day (since this is what he has at nursery 4 days a week) for circa 2 hours (12/12.30 – 2/2.30). I usually put him into his cot for bed between 6-6.30. Lately he has fallen asleep within 10-15 minutes but then woken up again a few hours later and is awake in his cot (silently and settled) till around 1030pm then he falls asleep again.. Or sometimes he is waking up between 4.30-5 and will simply stay in his cot (silently and settled) till we get him at 6.30. Why is this happening?

    1. Hi Anna! Sounds like your little one may be ready for slightly more awake time before bed to allow him to build up sleep pressure to get him through the night. Giving him an extra 15-30 minutes before bed and it should help with those wake ups. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you need more support!

  14. Hello Bonnie you amazing sleep pro! I wish I could have come across this article when my lil one was smaller. So my 2yr and 9 month old started at proper nursery about 2 months ago which she loves! She is doing that 2 yr old power exrecising and at night, even though so tired, will keep coming out of her room. I take her back in without saying anything again and again until she goes to sleep. She started staying up later after the clocks went back (UK end of March) and due to a 1.5 week holiday we went on in mid-April (having later bedtimes). In the mornings it is a struggle to get her up (7am), she is upset and cranky and when I pick her up from nursery (drop off at 8:30am collect at 4:30pm) she is cranky, completely rebellious and falling asleep in the car so just exhausted. I have been implementing an earlier and consistent bedtime routine and making sure she has more chill-out time before bed which I have seen some improvement but she keeps reverting to pushing bedtimes back. She does not nap (since Jan 2022) but it feels like she could do with it again. This may be a phase but any advice will help no matter how big or little.

    1. Hi AJ! This is such a challenging phase! An early bedtime may help when she doesn’t nap helps, but if she does (even a small nap in the car) it can be helpful to push bedtime back a bit later so she can fall asleep more easily. Then gradually move it earlier again as she starts to associate her bedtime routine with the feeling of falling asleep vs playing the pop out of bed game. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you need more support. This is a tough age for the in and out of bed issue and sometimes more in depth support is needed to resolve.

  15. Kelly Marshall

    Hi Bonnie,
    Thank you so much for all your wonderful blog posts. I really enjoy reading them and your responses to followers questions. I have a 3.5 month old who has been, well at least to me a great night sleeper. At 10 weeks, he started going to bed between 7-8 pm and will usually wake at 4am for a feed. Then wakes back up around 7:30am. I’m pretty sure he has already went through his 4 month sleep regression because for a week or so he had episodes where he was waking every hour after 2 am. And all methods to lull him back to sleep, except breast feeding, failed. In any case, he appears to be back on track with his night sleeping. I am now having problems with his naps. He is not sleep trained. It is a struggle to get him to take a nap. He basically screams, cries, and spits the pacifier out, sometimes for up to an hour, before he finally falls asleep, all while I making every effort to call him. And then his nap is usually the dreaded 45 mins. I don’t really follow a schedule, but I do do a mini bed routine (feed, book, sleep sack, lights, white noise) prior to nap and I follow wake windows of about 1.5 hrs along with his sleep cues. Do you have any suggestions how to get him to nap without a fight? I should also mention he always wakes up angry. Should I start sleep training?

    1. Hi Kelly! Glad to hear the posts were helpful for you! Naps can be pretty challenging at this age and short naps are common. Working on having him fall asleep independently (aka some form of sleep coaching/training usually) should help him be able to fall asleep easily and faster. Sounds like he is still tired when he wakes up, which helping him fall asleep independently can also solve because he will be able to connect sleep cycles once he knows how to easily fall asleep and stay asleep on his own. Hope this is helpful! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more or if you need some support.

  16. Hey! Thank you for the help. I still need some clarity on early bedtimes though. My 16 month old daughter took a midday nap for about 1.75 hours today and then fell asleep at 5:30pm today when her bedtime is 7:30. Should I let her stay asleep and hope she sleeps through the night or only let her sleep for about an hour and wake her up and try bedtime around 9:30?

    1. Hi Courtney! If she is sick or hasn’t been getting the sleep she needs lately, should could really need that sleep and possibly sleep through. Typically, I recommend waking toddlers this age as soon as you can and doing normal bedtime. You could possibly do a slightly earlier bedtime too if she continues to just seem exhausted and sleepy after you wake her up. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more about it!

  17. Hi Bonnie,
    My little boy just turned 5 months old yesterday. The past week and a half he has been waking between 4-5:30am. Hes getting about 3.5-4.5 hours of daytime sleep and his wake windows range from 1.75-2.25 hours. He goes down for the night usually between 7-7;15. I’m not sure how to fix these early wake ups….prior to this he was sleeping through the night til 6-6:30. I’m worried this is going to turn into a habit and I don’t get it corrected soon. Do you have any suggestions?!

    1. Hi Felicia! Is he going through any big developmental milestones? This can cause random wakings for a week or so. You also want to make sure the first nap isn’t too early as this can perpetuate early wake ups. You can try a slightly earlier bedtime in the interim (a few days) to see if it gets him sleeping a bit later. This would be a sign that he was a bit overtired. If it doesn’t he may need some other schedule adjustments. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat and troubleshoot more!

  18. Hi! I have a 4 month old whom we’ve started sleep training both bedtime and naps with. He’s doing pretty well with falling asleep independently but only takes about 30 minute naps. I’ve read to leave him in his crib for about 30 minutes after to see if he’ll go back asleep. But is he able to consolidate naps at this age? Am I just stressing him out after his naps? Also with these 30 minute naps I’ve been having to add in an extra 4th nap close to bedtime or should I just be putting him down early for bed then???

    1. Hi Shannon! Naps can take a bit longer to come together than nights when sleep training, especially at this age. I typically see that it is somewhere between 4-6 months that naps reliably start to extend. As far as the early bedtime versus a 4th nap, it really depends on the timing. I don’t recommend bedtimes before 6pm and if an extra nap is needed because the wake window before a 6pm bedtime will be significantly longer than usual, I prefer that it doesn’t push bedtime more than 30 minutes later than usual. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  19. Hi there,
    I have an almost 3 month old who used to sleep better at night with only one feed around 4am and then wakes again at 7/8. I’ve been trying to implement a 7-8 bedtime, she stays asleep well until we wake her for a dream feed at 10pm, put her back to bed then she’ll cry out around 1 or 2am and we try to extend the sleep until 3 or 4 with the pacifier, but we’re still replacing it every 45 minutes. After we feed her so sleep pretty well until 7/8am.
    Any tips for getting rid of the pacifier or getting her to have more sound sleep for each stretch?
    We feed her every 3 hours during the day, and she doesn’t sleep more than 2hrs at nap time. Her first 2 naps are the longest and the last 2 are shorter and harder to get her to sleep.

    1. Hi Natalie! I know how frustrating that pacifier popping game can be. It sounds like she is waking up during that stretch from 1-4 every sleep cycle so this could be because she feels hungry if you recently started pushing that feed out, or because she is used to the pacifier during this time and wakes up between sleep cycles when she realizes it is gone. She is too young for formal sleep training which is a great way to get rid of the pacifier, but for now I recommend trying to soothe other ways and if she isn’t then use the pacifier if absolutely needed. Then when she hits 4 months if it is still a challenge, there are more options to help remove the pacifier and promote independent sleep. If you need some more support, feel free to reach out and schedule a free evaluation call!

  20. Hi,

    We are currently in a 3 to 2 nap transition and are struggling to work out her bedtime wake window. Her afternoon nap window is consistently 3.10-3.15 but it seems she is closer to 3 hours for her bedtime. Everything we read says the last window should be the longest. Should we look to stretch her bedtime window as she is approaching 9 months and most things say she should be doing close to 3.30 wake window?

    1. Hi Lee! Typically, yes, the last wake window of the day is the longest. However, this is not true for every baby. Watching her cues is very important to understand what best works for your individual baby. So if 3 hours seems to work — she’s falling asleep easily at bedtime without being overtired, she is sleeping well at nights and naps are going well, go with the 3 hours for now and she will tell you when she is ready to extend it! You will likely see he being more awake at the 3 hours, not showing sleeps cues and then having a hard time getting to sleep after 3 hours when she is ready to push that one longer. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat or troubleshoot more!

  21. Hi Maggie! My son turns 5 months old tomorrow. Normally his first nap is about 45 mins to an hour long. Second nap is around 1 hour and 15 mins long. Then he does two short 30 min nap with the last one ending around 6pm. All wake windows are 2hours to 2hrs 15 mins max. What time should bedtime be? We try to put him in at 8pm ( 2 hours after the last nap) but he wakes up a lot at night. Should bedtime be earlier?? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    1. Hi Sheena! I typically recommend a 7-7:30 PM bedtime for 5 month olds. However, you want to manage his wake windows so he isn’t getting overtired. Until he starts extending the first 3 naps and/or his wake windows, you may still be in a spot where you need the 4th nap to avoid overtiredness and not have bedtime at 5:30 PM. In terms of him waking up a lot at night, there could be some pieces of the schedule that are impacting it, but the biggest piece is how he is falling asleep at bedtime. Is he falling asleep independently? If not, helping him learn to fall asleep independently will help him sleep longer stretches at night and take longer naps. Helping families navigate this learning process is what I do when I work with families 1-on-1. If you would like to chat more, feel free to reach out!

  22. Hello,

    My baby is 4 months old and we started sleep training her about two weeks ago when she turned 16 weeks old. She sleeps right through the night normally 12 hours but we are struggling so much with her naps. I know it’s normal for her to sleep 30-45 mins at this age but she rarely ever gets enough nap time during the day. By the end of the night we have to put her to bed around 5-5:30 pm because she’s so tired she can’t even make it to 6 or 6:30 which is what we would like to set as her bed time. I know it’s good to give an early bedtime when a baby has sleep debt but I don’t want this to be her bed time forever. She has a ton of sleep debt to catch up on since she only slept while breast feeding and staying latched on all night before we did sleep training. And she slept even less for naps prior to sleep training so I know she’s still catching up I’m just wondering how we can push her bed time back or do we have to wait until naps are lengthier?

    1. Hi Alex! Those super super early bedtimes can be tough. Have you sleep trained for naps? Looking at what may be causing her short naps and working to lengthen them will help. Additionally, wake windows often adjust frequently at this age so watch for those early sleep cues to determine when she needs a bit more awake time. The combo of these two will push naps a bit later to push bedtime a bit later because a consistent 5-5:30pm bedtime can really set her body clock to that time (and waking up in the 5am hour after 12 hours of sleep). Have you tried to ‘save’ any of her short naps by going in immediately when she starts stirring and trying to shush and pat back to sleep? This could help get her practice at extending her naps and push bedtime later. Hope that helps! Reach out if you want to chat more about getting naps extended and bedtime better aligned through out the day!

  23. Hi! Our 16 week old is breastfed and has been fed to sleep mostly as he is a hungry baby and has consistently woken for feeds every 2/3 hours since birth. We had started to get stretches of 6 hours recently but that has all gone out the window the last 2 weeks and naps (which have always been short) are 30 mins, and he is waking after each sleep cycle at night.
    I have limited feeds overnight to twice at 1 and 4 and that’s ok, but as he has a pacifier we need to put that in every hour or so and I’m exhausted!!
    When he falls asleep at night at 7pm (after a lot of crying on his part unless being held) he wakes numerous times within an hour, and is very upset. Should we try an earlier bed time?
    Also, he cries so so much in his cot when he’s put down, it makes me anxious but I have tried patting and shushing and he usually falls asleep within 10/15 mins but is just so happy when he’s held that I find it hard not to! Will this time reduce and he will become ok with being put down eventually?

    Help – one overtired mama!!

    1. Hi Jo! This is a hard stage. It sounds like your baby is going through the “4 month sleep regression” which can make it easier and more likely for him to wake up more for help to get back to sleep if he is used to help getting to sleep initially (breastfeeding, pacifier, physical touch, etc.) The frequent wake ups within a hour of bedtime (false starts) could be related to overtiredness so shortening his wake window before bed by moving bedtime a bit earlier could help. Now that he is about 4 months old, you can start taking more structured steps to help him learn to fall asleep independently so that if he starts to wake up between sleep cycles at night, he knows how to get himself back to sleep. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more. Working with families in similar situations to gently and responsively help babies learn to fall asleep independently is what I do!

  24. Hello, I have an 8 month old who was sleeping okay, until about 2 weeks ago. She is now waking at around 4:30am most days. She generally goes to bed between 19:00-19:30. I don’t know how to get out of the cycle. She is currently taking 3 naps (that I feel stuck uncomfortably in due to early waking) Any advice? She can fall asleep in her own and can resettle herself too.

    Today she took all short naps so I was going to put her to bed early. She woke from her last nap at 16:25, what time is okay to put her down for the night?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Teresa! I know how frustrating it is when our babies are sleeping well and then all of a sudden it seems to all fall apart. I typically recommend an early bedtime no earlier than 1 hour prior to the normal bedtime. At 8 months old, she is likely about ready to transition to two naps. It can be tough with the early wake ups, but I recommend starting to push her naps out about 3 hours from when she woke up or 8:30a at the earliest. To get on a solid 2 nap schedule typically naps are at 9:30/10a and 2/3p for a the 19-19:30 bedtime. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out to chat more about a plan to get her naps and bedtimes consistently working well with where she is developmentally now.

  25. Thank you Bonnie, much appreciated. The past few days her morning naps have been over an hour each and have been between 8:30 and 9, so hope it is a bit of a pattern.

    I will keep in mind your advice for future short nap days. Really helpful to know.

    Thanks again.

  26. Hi,
    First time mom here and trying to navigate the napping/sleep/sleep training thing. We have a 5 month old. His typical schedule for me is bedtime between 9-10, wake up between 4/5 then back to sleep then wake up around 730/830, nap around 10/11, then 1/2, 4/5 and 7/730. His big nap is usually 1.5-2 hrs around the 1/2pm nap. the rest are probably 30min-1hr. But that’s for me. I work graveyards half the week and when I’m at work, he won’t sleep as well for dad. Bedtime is later, naps are shorter, wakes up an extra time in the middle of the night. He tries to follow the “schedule” to put it loosely but lately it seems like he’s extremely fussy in the evenings after I go to work at 5. Then he goes back to sleeping well for me when I am off the rest of the week.
    Most of the time he falls asleep after feeding and it seems like we can only get him to go to sleep on his own in his crib if he’s super tired otherwise he wakes himself up completely. He gets excited to be in his crib for some reason.
    How do I get him to sleep/nap better for dad while I’m working and sleeping during the day?

    1. Hi Ali! It can be tough when babies respond to each parent differently. Following a general routine/schedule looking at sleepy cues and wake windows at this age is helpful to try to get the wake up time and bedtime fairly consistent. You mentioned he falls asleep after feeding and then won’t fall asleep in his crib unless he is super tired. It sounds like he may have a feed to sleep association so he feels like he needs to feed in order to get to sleep and then you put him down drowsy and this change causes him to becomes more alert, wake up again fully and then it becomes more difficult to fall asleep from there. If the two of you are feeding differently, this could also be a factor in why he does better for you than his dad. Putting him down fully awake can help break the feed to sleep association so that he can fully fall asleep independently for either of you. There are lots of different ways to work on this, finding the right method that feels good for your family so you can stay consistent is important. Helping families find this and personalize a strategy to their family is what I do when I work with families one-on-one. I would love to chat more with you about what is going on, your goals and how I can help. If you are interested, you can schedule a free evaluation call here!

  27. Hi bonnie!

    Ever since i send my son to pre-school he doesn’t want to take a nap at all. Honestly i am okay about it because he will usually go to bed by 6.10pm and on random occasion by 7.30pm also because we have trained him to sleep early when he was like 8months old.

    Honestly I am cool about it because my son will be up by 6-6.30am feeling happy and ready to eat breakfast, shower and off to school by 7.45am.

    But it seems like its a problem to others.. like they’re blaming me saying its wrong to put my son to sleep early? I mean i don’t see any problem and i am tired of explain myself.. but i just need assurance that i’m doing a right thing for my 4yr old son.

    1. Hi Iman! I’m so sorry to hear that other people are making you feel like you aren’t doing the right thing for your son. It sounds like you are handling it exactly as your son needs! A 4 year old who recently dropped their nap does likely need that early bedtime. Sounds like he is getting about 12 hours of sleep, which is within the 10-13 hours of sleep recommended for his age group. If you are happy with how things are going, your son is getting the sleep that he needs, don’t worry about what other people say. You are helping your son get exactly what he needs!

  28. Hi Bonnie,
    We have a 8 month old who I think is ready to transition to two naps as we have to wake him from nap 2 to squeeze a third in or his bedtime ends up being around 8:30.
    He has been waking twice to feed at night (anywhere between 11pm-12am and 3-4am). He self settles (we used the Ferber method to sleep train) and has for a month or so but he has started to cry a lot more before each nap and after dropping the third nap he woke every 3 hours and needed another feed during the night. Current wake windows at (2hrs 25 then 2hours 45). Any advice to help him sleep through? Are we doing something wrong?

    1. Hi Vicky! At this age, I recommend transitioning to 2 naps. Sometimes it can take a week or so of ‘forcing’ a 2 nap schedule for things to adjust. Getting his sleep appropriately timed during the day can help with nighttime. Usually this results in wake windows of about 3 hours between sleep periods. For the nighttime, it could be that there is still a lingering feed to sleep association leading to the night wake ups continuing. Making sure he is going down fully awake at bedtime is important. Then using the sleep training methods you used if needed for bedtime and then when you are ready, for the wake ups. Ensuring full feeds during the day and getting enough food during the day helps. Some babies need a push at night to eliminate feeds in order to increase intake during the day. Hope that helps! If you need more support, feel free to reach out!

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