When Should Babies and Kids Go To Sleep?

Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to your child’s development. In addition to solid nutrition, adequate rest allows the brain to grow and facilitates thinking, learning, and behavior formation.

While babies may vary in their sleep patterns and sleep needs, most infants between 4 and 12 months of age should get at least 12 to 16 hours of total daily sleep.

Newborns & Preemies

Babies born before 37 weeks gestation, also called preemies, require care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) until their organ systems can work independently. After that, they often stay in the hospital for several days or weeks.

Most premature babies are tiny, with sharper features than full-term infants, and have little body fat, which makes their skin look thinner. In addition, some have fine hair that covers much of their bodies, known as lanugo.

Seeing development occurs rapidly between 22 and 34 weeks of gestational age, and preemies start to focus on objects at this point. They begin by blinking or closing their eyes in bright light, but in softer lighting, they will open their eyes and take in what’s around them.

Newborns typically go through two or three different sleep cycles during the night. One process is quiet or deep sleep, where the baby is still. Another is light sleep, where they may move around, breathe unevenly, and have their eyelids flutter under their eyelids (Rapid Eye Movements, or REM).

These sleep cycles happen over and over again on the same night. This is called a sleep-wake cycle, and your baby needs to be able to go through these cycles.

Some preemies may have a more difficult time sleeping through the night than full-term babies, and they may need to wake up regularly during the night for feeds. However, most preemies will grow out of these issues as they grow and develop.

The other important thing to know about sleep is that premature infants are more at risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, than full-term newborns. If your baby has been exposed to SIDS, consult your doctor or health professional as soon as possible.

Babies born prematurely, of low birth weight, from multiple births, or with neonatal health problems are at higher risk of SIDS than babies born at term. This is because babies born before 37 weeks have underdeveloped brains, so they are at greater risk of developing problems.


As infants age and their brains develop, they sleep more predictably. Finally, they’ll start having recognizable naps and sleeping for six-hour stretches at night.

This is an excellent time to get your baby on a regular schedule. If you are not already, make sure your baby goes to bed at the same time each day and gets a good amount of sleep each day.

Once your baby reaches four months old, their sleep patterns will become much more predictable. Of course, they will still wake up several times a night, but you’ll notice that they aren’t waking up as often and may be capable of falling asleep on their own.

At this age, babies will have three naps a day, ending by 5:00 pm, and bedtime should be 2-2.5 hours after their last rest. Moving bedtime even earlier if your baby is waking up early at night or pushing the end of their nap late.

You’ll want to keep the naps short and sweet, so they don’t take up too much of your baby’s time. Of course, you can still give your baby full breastfeeding before bed, but it should be brief only once they’ve completely fallen asleep.

It is imperative to keep your baby’s bedtime routine consistent and pleasant, as this can be the best option to help them learn to fall asleep on their own and will also encourage them to sleep more easily. You can also use a nightlight or lovey to help your child feel safe during the night, but this should only be used if your baby is having trouble falling asleep.

Suppose your infant is still waking up multiple times a night. In that case, it might be time to talk to your doctor about a possible medical problem, such as colic or reflux, to identify the cause of your child’s cries or discomfort so they can be treated quickly.

When you go to bed, be sure your baby has a clean diaper and is wearing a comfortable outfit that they will not overheat in. You can also blanket your baby to keep them warm and help them fall asleep more easily.


If you have a toddler, it’s important to establish a sleep schedule and routine that meets their needs, including nap time, a bedtime routine, and an early wake-up in the morning to prepare for her day of activities.

Your child may take up to two naps a day at this stage. It’s also a good idea to plan a resting period between lunch and dinner, as this can help them feel recharged for the rest of their day.

Toddlers usually get around 11 hours of sleep a day and should have a bedtime around 7:30 pm or later. You can calculate their appropriate rest by counting backward from when they need to wake up for school each day.

You’ll need to be consistent with your bedtime and naptime routine throughout their toddler years, as it helps them learn to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Avoid boisterous play right before bedtime, as it can make settling harder for them.

Keep their bedroom as quiet as possible and steer clear of electronics, computers, and tablets in their room. If you have a bunk bed, consider adding safety rails to the side of the bed and checking there are no electrical outlets on or near the beds.

Your toddler may start to develop night fears, and they may need reassurance before going to bed. It’s a good idea to put a blanket or comfort object in their room before they go to bed and to keep a soft toy like a blanket nearby to reassure them.

If your toddler starts to procrastinate and resist going to bed, try a gentle nightly routine that teaches them how to self-soothe. This might involve rubbing their head or cheeks or cuddling with them.

In addition to establishing a sleep routine, you’ll need to set aside time for quiet play during the day. This can be an excellent opportunity to read books or listen to audiobooks.

It’s also recommended to ensure your child has all their nightly necessities (like their clothes, a change of pajamas, and a snack) before they sleep. This will help them relax before bedtime and not need you to enter their room every few minutes at night.


Sleep is vital for a variety of reasons. Research suggests that it helps your body to restore itself, as well as to help your brain function efficiently.

A decent night’s sleep is vital to your child’s physical and emotional health and school performance. The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting 10 to 13 hours of sleep every day for children ages 3 to 5, but that amount may vary from child to child.

For example, toddlers may need two naps daily; older preschoolers may opt for one or none. As a parent, you’ll need to figure out how much sleep your child needs so that you can create a calming bedtime routine that will allow them to sleep well each night.

Most parents will tell you this can be challenging, but ensuring your preschooler’s best possible night’s sleep is essential. Common preschool sleep problems include nightmares, night wakings, and short or long naps.

Establishing a predictable, calming bedtime routine and following it religiously is best. This will set the stage for your child to go to bed each night on time and in a state of rest, making them feel rested and refreshed for the next day.

The best thing to remember is that sleep is a state of mind, and your child’s sleeping habits will determine how their moods and overall well-being will be shaped throughout the day and into the night. It’s up to you to guide your children through this process, but it is worth the effort!

About Dominic E.

Film Student and Full-time Medical Writer forĀ ContentVendor.com