When Should Each Age Get to Bed?

You hear it all the time, that a good sleep schedule leads to better rest, deeper sleep, and a generally healthier life. That’s all well and good for adults who are in charge of their own bedtimes and early alarms, but how can you decide what’s best for your child? How should it change as your baby becomes a toddler and (eek!) a big kid? What are the best bedtimes by age?

How much sleep does each age need?

Figuring out bedtimes by age requires some extra info. There are a lot of moving parts to figure out! Let’s start by looking at how much sleep each age needs before we go jumping to sorting out bedtimes by age. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should be going by these recommendations:

  • Newborn (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
  • Infant (4-12 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddler (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschool (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
  • School Age (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
  • Teen (14-17 years): 8-10 hours

Obviously once you have adult children, you won’t be setting bedtimes by that age, and it’s unlikely that when they’re teens you even need to set bedtimes by that age either, but it’s good information to have for yourself and others in your home. After all, those tiny people do continue to grow as time goes on! For now, let’s talk about what just what are the best bedtimes by age?

how much sleep for a Newborn (0-3 months)

Your baby should be sleeping about fourteen to seventeen hours at this stage, but don’t expect it to be all at night! Baby’s sleep will be spread throughout the day. This is a time for a whole lot of physical growth, and that takes both a lot of sleep and a lot of food. Either one can and will wind up interrupting the other. Your baby will wake up during the night to eat, and will probably fall asleep while eating on a fairly regular basis.

Calculating Bedtimes by This Age

You can use that food induced sleep to help set the right bedtime by this age. See how long each bout of sleep tends to last. Consider how often baby wakes, and adjust your last feeding of the evening towards a time that works with when your household wakes. Let’s say baby tends to sleep for four hours and takes about a half an hour to eat. If you want to wake up around 7am, count backwards. You should be aiming to have baby back to sleep by 3, so look for a 2:30am feeding session. Remember to check the diaper first so you don’t have to wake the baby you just soothed to sleep! Counting back another four hours, you want baby asleep by 9. Have bath time done and baby dry and dressed for bed by 8:30, then do your final feeding and it’s off to dreamland!

Infant (4-12 months)

At the infant stage, your baby should be sleeping about twelve to fifteen hours, but this is still not a once and done thing. Even though your baby may start sleeping through the night during this stage (the earlier this happens, the more blessed you are), naps are still an important time for baby to get more much needed rest in order to keep on growing. Naps are also a great time for you to rest or catch up on other non-baby activities, but that’s a very different discussion!

Calculating Bedtimes by This Age

The bedtimes by this age are still based on the time the household has to get up. If you are a night owl, you’re likely to sleep in, so you’ll want your baby to do the same. If you’re a morning person, you might aim to have baby wake up a little sooner to join you for your daily activities.

Babies this age tend to take at least a morning and afternoon nap. Younger infants might sneak a third nap in there. If your baby has started to sleep through the night, use our counting back method that we used in the newborn stage, but drop the night time feeding time. Usually “through the night” means about a 7 hour block of solid sleep. Count back seven hours from when you want your well rested baby to wake, and start your bedtime feeding then. Remember to use a consistent bedtime routine before the bedtime feeding. This becomes the cues you give your baby’s tiny body to say that it’s time to start relaxing and getting ready to sleep. This is a great time to enjoy some cuddles, read a book, and rub on some baby lotion.

Toddler (1-2 years)

How Much Sleep?

Your toddler should be getting about eleven to fourteen hours of sleep each day. Hopefully, this sleep still includes at least one nap. Some little ones are just too interested in what’s going on in their world and stop napping early. If you can at least get these little ones to rest during a quiet time, consider that a parenting win. These kiddos will probably fall on the lesser end of the recommended amount of sleep.

Calculating Bedtimes by This Age

Figuring out the bedtime for this age gets a little trickier. You’ve got to look at whether or not your precocious toddler is still napping or not. If they’re not napping, their bedtime should be a little earlier, because even though they’re probably getting a little less sleep overall, it’s happening all at once. Those who are still napping will probably sleep a little less at night, so their bedtime will be a bit later.

You know how we’re going to figure this out, right? Of course! By the time you’ve got a toddler, you’re catching on to all the parenting procedures. Knowing how much your active little one tends to sleep, do that trusty old working backwards procedure. At this age, bedtime feedings are probably starting to fade, but keep up with the other bedtime routines you’ve already established. This will help send messages to that active little body that it’s time to relax and unwind in time for bed and a good night’s rest.

Preschooler (3-5 years)

How Much Sleep?

Your preschooler should be getting about ten to thirteen hours of sleep, and at this age, it might be all in one shot! As lovely as naps are, and as much as you cherish that down time as a parent, kids in this age range tend to stop taking naps and start getting all of their sleep at night, especially towards the five year mark.

Calculating Bedtimes by This Age

You know what I’m going to say, right? Of course! To figure out this bedtime by age, count back from you toddler’s wake up time by at least ten hours. They might be trying to stay up later at this age, but be sure to enforce a good, healthy bedtime, even if they’re resistant! Keep up with the regular bedtime routine. If they’ve started to use screens by now, make sure their screen time ends at least an hour before bedtime to help them calm down in time.

School Aged (6-13 years)

How Much Sleep?

Once your kiddo heads off to school, you need to aim to have them sleep about nine to eleven hours a night. If you are extremely fortunate and not too tied up in extracurriculars, you might get a younger kid to take a quick snooze after school, but count on most of those hours of sleep happening at night.

Calculating Bedtimes by This Age

By now, the school schedule will dominate when you kid needs to wake up. Take into account how long the family needs for everyone to complete their whole morning routine to get out the door in time. A bathroom schedule might be necessary. The bedtime by this age depends on when your child needs to wake up to fit into the family’s morning schedule. Count backwards from you child’s wake up time by at least nine hours, and stick with that bedtime! They may push to go to bed later as they get older and want to feel more grown up. Make sure you reinforce how important sleep is to a happy, healthy life!

Teenagers and Up

If you’ve followed these bedtime steps throughout your teen’s early years, you’ve set them up to make good decisions about their own sleep schedules. Bedtime by this age will be largely up to them. Encourage eight to ten hours and a regular schedule, and your teen should be well rested and ready to carry their good sleep habits well into adulthood.