It can be tough to figure out exactly how much sleep your kid needs and when he or she 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 months of age might fail at three months!
Check out this quick guide to get a ballpark sense of how much sleep your kid needs. And keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits all solution—each child is different.
When determining a good time for your child to go to bed, it’s important to work backwards from the time that your child likes to (or needs to) wake up. So, for example, a five-year-old who needs to be at school at 8:00am and requires about an hour to get ready and eat breakfast might function best when going to bed at 8:00pm or 9:00pm and waking up at 7:00am. Remember, though, that most children wake up early. So extending their bedtime until 10:00pm isn’t necessarily going to result in their sleeping later in the morning—it will likely just result in a cranky child, particularly if this isn’t part of their regular routine.
Newborns are the hardest, when it comes to establishing a regular bedtime routine. A baby’s internal clock isn’t fully developed yet, so a newborn has no sense of night and day. Newborns tend to sleep intermittently throughout the day and night, and as long as they’re receiving the necessary 14 to 17 hours per 24-hour day, it doesn’t really matter when, exactly, they sleep.
Remember that sleep may be harder to come by at certain ages, too, whether it’s due to emotional issues, lifestyle changes, or hormonal fluctuations. Helping your child develop healthy sleep hygiene habits early may help combat some of these issues, but if sleeping problems persist—or if you think that your kid may be dealing with insomnia or another sleep problem—seek professional help.