What time is bedtime?
For me, having a baby means he goes to bed early and so sometimes my husband and I miss out on fun stuff. Like outdoor summer concerts or dinner with friends. Sometimes we do those things and leave early. I think sleep is important for Parker so I make sure he goes to bed early enough to get the sleep he needs. He's also pretty fussy if he doesn't get enough sleep, so that's motivation for me to make sure he's well-rested.
So, what is an ideal bedtime for your baby?
Newborns 0-6 weeks may go to sleep as late as 10pm for "bedtime." I have bedtime in quotations because we expect babies that young to be up many times during the night to feed. But as they get older, they will ideally start sleeping longer stretches during the night.
When your baby turns 6 weeks old, I recommend an earlier bedtime, sometime between 7 and 8pm. This time goes for all babies older than 6 weeks until they're teenagers! 90% of babies will wake up between 6 and 7am. (If your baby sleeps 9pm-9am every night, consider yourself lucky!)
The National Sleep Foundation says that babies 4-11 months need 12-15 hours of sleep and toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep. Babies sleep 10-12 of those hours at night so in order for them to get enough sleep, they need to go to bed early.
I know some people worry that if they put their baby to bed early, he will wake up early. This rarely happens. Many parents find that the later their baby goes to bed, the earlier he will wake up. And the earlier baby goes to bed, the later he sleeps in the morning. So don't keep your baby up in hopes that he will sleep later the next day!
Also, keep in mind that bedtime doesn't have to be exactly the same time every night. 30 minutes on either side of normal bedtime is fine. So if your child took a short nap during the day or seems really tired, you can put her down 30 minutes early so she gets the sleep she needs. I don't recommend keeping your child up more than an hour after her normal bedtime. It's hard for their bodies to adjust to more than an hour difference.
Am I saying you should never keep your child up late? No, of course not. Every once in a while is fine.
I'm going to talk about why sleep is so important for our little ones in future posts, so stay tuned!