Do Babies Sleep Longer If They Go to Bed Earlier?

Let’s face it: on the really tough days when my baby was taking horrible naps, I seriously questioned whether 4PM was an acceptable bedtime. I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes I thought about it multiple times a week!

So what’s the best time for bedtime? Should you be putting your baby down later to try and encourage longer mornings? What’s the best way to get this kid to sleep??

You’ll be happy to know that babies who are put to bed earlier tend to sleep better. Quality sleep tends to happen before midnight for most babies (and adults!) so don’t be afraid of an earlier bedtime. Find your child’s “sleep sweet spot”, then stick to it – for babies younger than 12 weeks, bedtime should be around 9PM to 10PM. Babies older than 12 weeks do best with bedtime around 7PM to 8PM.

Will an Earlier Bedtime Help Baby Sleep Longer in the Morning?

If your child is waking before 6AM, you have an early riser…and I don’t have to tell you how frustrating this can be!

No one wants to be up before the sun – not even your child. So what are you supposed to do when your little one seems to have an internal clock that wakes with the sun every day?

Remember that young babies are still learning the art of sleeping, and any disruption to their natural circadian rhythm really damages their ability to sleep well. It’s very similar to when, as an adult, you stay up too late on a Friday night and struggle to function well the next day! 

Not enough sleep during those critical 7PM to 12AM hours makes it even harder for those sweet babies to fall asleep and stay asleep.

So it might seem like a good idea to put your baby down later at night to try and encourage longer sleep in the morning, but please don’t! Babies are not built to stay up late. In fact, putting your baby to bed later might be encouraging those early morning wake-ups!

Tips for Getting Your Baby to Bed on Time

  1. Set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes before you want to start bedtime so you don’t get off track.
  2. Plan a simple bedtime routine that’s 20-30 minutes long, then stick to the plan every night.
  3. Use a key phrase like, “It’s time for some rest.” at every bedtime so your baby knows what to expect.

How Can I Make My Baby’s Bedtime Earlier?

Now that you know what time your baby needs to be in bed (7PM to 8PM for older babies, 9PM to 10PM for infants), how can you make your baby’s bedtime earlier?

My advice is to shift your baby’s bedtime back slowly. Try not to jump from a 9PM bedtime up to a 7PM bedtime all in one night! This may cause some strange nighttime sleep or even earlier wakeups for a time. The best way to get your child on an earlier bedtime is to step their bedtime back by 15 to 20 minutes each night.

For example, if your child is currently getting to bed around 9PM and you’d like to shift it back to 7:30PM:

Night 1 – bedtime should start at 8:15PM, baby should be in bed by 8:45PM.

Night 2 – bedtime should start at 8:00PM, baby should be in bed by 8:30PM.

Night 3 – bedtime should start at 7:45PM, baby should be in bed by 8:15PM.

Night 4 – bedtime should start at 7:30PM, baby should be in bed by 8:00PM.

Night 5 – bedtime should start at 7:15PM, baby should be in bed by 7:45PM.

Night 6 – bedtime should start at 7:00PM, baby should be in bed by 7:30PM.

Shifting bedtime back over the course of a few days will help your baby adjust to the new time slowly, and give their bodies a chance to adjust their internal clock. You should see the effects quickly if this is done right!

When should I start a bedtime routine with my newborn?

Newborns tend to have a later bedtime (somewhere between 9PM and 10PM), however, this doesn’t mean you can’t start building those good bedtime habits early! I suggest starting a bedtime routine anytime after your child is 6 weeks old.

A Quick and Easy Bedtime Routine for Infants Under 6 Weeks Old

  1. Nurse and/or bottle
  2. Bath or a warm washcloth
  3. Diaper change
  4. Pajamas on
  5. Sleep sack or swaddle on
  6. Cuddles, hugs, kisses goodnight
  7. White noise
  8. Lights off
  9. Leave room.

[CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT THE BEST BEDTIME ROUTINES FOR KIDS]

When should I start a bedtime routine with my baby?

If you haven’t been doing a bedtime routine since the newborn stage, I would suggest starting a new bedtime routine tonight! Babies older than 12 weeks tend to love a simple, consistent bedtime routine, and it’s very easy to make one.

A Quick and Easy Bedtime Routine for 6 Week Old and Older

  1. Nurse and/or bottle
  2. Bath or a warm washcloth
  3. Diaper change
  4. Pajamas on
  5. Brush teeth (if old enough)
  6. Storytime (1-2 books maximum)
  7. Sleep sack or swaddle on
  8. Cuddles, hugs, kisses goodnight
  9. White noise
  10. Lights off
  11. Leave room.

There are a few rules to follow around this bedtime routine:

DON’T allow your baby to watch TV or be around screens that give off blue light at night. This will affect their natural ability to produce melatonin (the hormone that makes us sleepy) and will keep them awake longer!

DON’T overstimulate or keep baby active too long in the evening. This will cause your baby to get so excited they won’t be able to calm into sleep! Evenings are for winding down, so keep the activity to a minimum.

DON’T change the routine once you have it set. Babies look for cues during the day that will help them figure out what’s coming next! If you’re always changing the routine, your little one will struggle to know that it’s bedtime which will make it hard for them to fall asleep.

And if you or your family are still struggling to make it past 5AM in the morning, or waking multiple times at night, please don’t hesitate to book a 15-minute FREE consultation with me or one of my consultants! We’re not here to pressure you or sell you anything at all – your Denver sleep coach is here to listen and come up with solutions so you and your family can get back to the most important thing in your day – SLEEP!

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