Bedtime, it's the dreaded subject for almost every parent. Not because parent's don't like bedtime, for most parents it is actually the contrary, it's because kids typically dislike bedtime or any time they are not allowed to participate in every activity happening around them. But any parent, scientist, or parenting expert will tell you bedtime is a necessary evil. In order for children to be the happy chipper little ones we know and love, they need to get adequate sleep. So, just how does one go about deciding on the right time for bedtime? We've compiled a list to help parents decide just that.
According to Kim West, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and child and family therapist, the amount of sleep children need depends on their age, and that amount is exactly the type of mathematical equations parents should take into account when calculating their child's bedtime. For infants from about four to 11 months: (because let's be honest before four months they don't really sleep anyway) they need about 9-11 hours at night. Toddlers need about 10-12 hours at night and preschoolers need about 10-13 hours at night.
When deciding on your child's bedtime, think about what time you would like your child to wake in the morning. If your family are not particularly early risers, consider a later morning hour and work backward from there, otherwise, parents risk a 6 am wake up call from their little ones for putting them to bed too early in the evening.
Some children just naturally wake up early, some have early morning disturbances that can go undetected by parents without some investigation. Either way, think about when you would ideally like your little one to start his or her day and set a bedtime based on the number of hours he or she should be sleeping.
No one wants to go to bed hungry. When considering what would be a suitable bedtime, you may wish to consider when dinner time is for the family. Setting your child's bedtime too soon after dinner can give them an upset stomach and make kitchen clean up a late-night event, but setting your child's bedtime too late at night could make them really irritable. So, consider dinner time that's suitable for the family and give or take an hour afterward to give everyone time to wind down before bed.
The best way to factor what time the kids should go to bed is after parents can set a good bedtime routine. How long will it take after work to get things in order and make sure the kids brush their teeth, change into their PJs, go over their homework and read a story?
A bedtime routine sets up the eminent bedtime and can really help out both kids and parents wind down after a busy day. When deciding what time the kids should go to bed, think about how long each task will take and go from there.
Depending on how old your tot is, he or she may still be taking naps. If this is the case, it's important to refer to the sleep chart for kids. According to Kim West aka the sleep lady, in a 24 hour period newborns need 14-17 hours of sleep, infants need 12-16 hours of sleep, and toddlers need 11-14 hours of sleep. How much of those are spent napping? If your child naps only an hour per day it can be wise to look into the amount of time he or she will be spent sleeping at night and add it up. Doing the math is a great way to decide on a sleep time.
Deciding on a good sleep time for your child can be pretty simple when these tips are taken into account. Consider how active your little one is during the day and at which hours he or she reaches peak activity. You wouldn't want bedtime to follow shortly after a very active time in the day, so consider setting it a few hours later. Setting your child's bedtime also means taking into account how tired he or she will be after his or her activity for the day. Very active children need lots of rest! So consider offering a time slot that accounts for more hours on the sleep chart.
Parenting is unpredictable and so is life. So try to allow for a bit of leeway–give or take a half an hour–for setting a fixed bedtime, just in case you got dinner on the stove late or there are some unexpected guests that show up not too long after your little one would usually be in bed.
When setting your little one's bedtime try to allow for some "just in case" time. When people ask what time your child goes to bed, it may help to say, around (insert time here). That mentality can save you a lot of stress later, especially while sleep training.
One can call it what they like, screen time, overactive stimuli, before bedtime activity or rowdiness, nighttime stimulation can play a huge role in how parents select a bedtime for their children. If parents allow their children to have a lot of screen time right before bed, their children may have difficulty sleeping because screens block the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, according to The National Sleep Foundation.
If parents have more than one child, it may be wise to consider a bedtime that is close enough together for all kids, regardless of their age. It may seem unfair to older siblings to go to bed at the same time as younger siblings, but it can really help around the house. Putting the kids to bed around the same time can be really helpful to parents and kids alike, no one will feel like they're missing out on anything and big kids can help the littles get ready for bed.
If your little one is pushing past his or her natural bedtime he or she may get overtired and then going to sleep will actually be harder, contrary to popular belief. According to a study, when children are awake past the time their body actually needs to go to sleep, their body will release a hormone to keep them awake, this gives them a kind of jet lag feeling for the next day, leaving them irritable. So when setting your child's bedtime, look for the signs of overtiredness and know that bedtime should be just before that point.