Why Early and Consistent Bedtimes are Essential for Babies

baby bedtimes bedtime routine bedtime tips consistency Feb 22, 2022
Why Early and Consistent Bedtimes are Essential for Babies

Does your baby have a consistent and early bedtime? Consistency is incredibly important when it comes to having success with your baby’s sleep for so many reasons!  

Yes, sometimes things get thrown off and the timing of the day doesn’t always work out exactly how you want it to. Sometimes wake windows and your baby’s naps don’t match up (especially during nap transitions), and then other times your baby wakes up at the crack of dawn and now you’re just trying to survive until bedtime. I know the struggle. 

But, babies who have a generally consistent routine and bedtime will more easily get back on track when our days don’t go totally according to plan. 

Here is why striving to put your baby down for sleep at the same time every night is a crucial element of baby sleep [1]. 

The Importance of a Consistent Routine and Bedtime for Your Baby

Figuring out the right bedtime, as well as including a consistent bedtime routine, for your baby is key to helping your baby settle for rest and recognize that it’s time for sleep. 

(Check out this blog for my recommended bedtime routine!)

Keeping your baby’s bedtime early is the next step to successful sleep. An early bedtime will allow for the necessary 10-12 hours of sleep for your baby, which is essential for them getting the most restorative sleep possible! 

Your baby’s early bedtime is also important because it:

  1. Prevents your baby from becoming overly tired.
  2. Promotes longer stretches of consolidated night sleep (over time). 
  3. Allows your little one the opportunity to get their total sleep needs, especially as naps fluctuate with age.

When you provide a consistent bedtime for them each night, their circadian rhythm will allow for them to fall asleep soundly and get the restorative rest they need to function at their best during the day [2].

If you want to learn more about your baby’s circadian rhythm and how you can adjust it (if needed), check out this blog.

Additionally, babies thrive on routine and consistency!  

Imagine this: Your boss drops by unexpectedly telling you you have a project due today that you were unaware of. Or, you take your baby to daycare only to find out that daycare is suddenly closed today. What if your mother-in-law dropped by unannounced? It’s overwhelming and stressful for us to be constantly thrown into unexpected situations. Your baby is the same way - it’s overwhelming and stressful for them to try to keep up with constantly changing dynamics. 

In creating a predictable schedule, their body settles into a rhythm and your baby comes to know exactly what to expect and when to expect it. This is also so helpful when other caregivers participate in your little one’s sleep routine! It allows for the adult stepping in to know what to do at bedtime, and your baby to know what’s coming next; There’s no confusion!

Finding the Ideal Bedtime for Your Baby

While an early bedtime is ideal, it’s common for newborns and young infants to have a later bedtime. This is usually the case so that their longest stretch of sleep will be more in line with when parents are going to sleep, which is totally fine since they will be waking to eat throughout the night, anyway.

Moving your baby’s bedtime to earlier in the evening usually happens as your baby grows and coincides with their nap transitions, and as a result of their wake windows lengthening [3].  

Most commonly, babies and toddlers naturally become drowsy between 7-8 pm, which is why this is the perfect window to get them into bed! Waiting until later in the evening will likely leave them overtired which can often cause a bedtime struggle.

It’s common to think that putting your little one (3+ months) to bed at a later time will lead to them sleeping in later, but this is not the case. Young babies and children naturally wake early, between 6-7 am. Putting them to bed after 8 pm will keep them from getting those necessary 10-12 hours of nighttime sleep! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Here are the ideal bedtimes for your baby based on their age:

  • 0-8 weeks: 8-10 pm
  • 8-12 weeks: 8-9 pm
  • 3 months+: 7-8 pm

Does Your Newborn Need a Bedtime?

I’m often asked when to start implementing a bedtime. This may be an unpopular opinion, but as long as you feel comfortable with it, I recommend creating a bedtime and bedtime routine when your baby is a newborn, as there are SO many benefits later on! 

Yes, newborns will still wake throughout the night to eat and a bedtime routine and consistent (as possible) bedtime will not change that. However, having an “official bedtime” for a newborn is helpful for the following reasons:

  1. It allows for you to plan a bedtime for yourself and get a longer stretch of sleep, along with your newborn. ⠀⠀
  2. A bedtime routine will, over time, help your baby sleep longer stretches throughout the night. 
  3. A bedtime routine will help your newborn separate their days and nights. This is because a bedtime routine will be a significantly different experience for them than the rest of the day. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

As mentioned earlier, there will be days that you’re not able to keep bedtime consistent. Don’t let it stress you out, but be as consistent as possible so that when these “hiccups” happen, your baby is able to easily (and quickly!) get back on track!

If you find yourself still struggling with your little one’s sleep, please know that you are not alone and that I am here to help. Download one of my comprehensive sleep guides or schedule a call with me for some personalized support. 



[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6587179/

[2] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsr.12918

[3] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsr.12414

Need help transforming your child's sleep? Check out my sleep offerings for children 0-3 years old!


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