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How to Move Your Child’s Bedtime Later

Well, if you’re asking how to make your child’s bedtime later, the chances are that you are probably using an early bedtime to maximize sleep so that things may be going OK for you. So high five! But I understand that life, work schedules, and life gets in the way, so here are some tips to help move that bedtime later (while not screwing up sleep).

1) If it’s not broke – don’t’ fix it – OK, you got me, this isn’t a tip, but in case you need a reason to keep things where they are, and things are good in sleep-land, please know that sleep is like Jenga. Sometimes you mess with one piece, and the whole tower falls. Most children (0-5) have a bedtime between 6 and 8 pm, which is when they are sleeping!

2) Shift nap #2 a little later but make sure that it’s still a restorative nap at a time that works for your child. For example, if your baby or toddler is currently taking a nap at 12:30 pm, try and stretch it to 1:00 pm to see if the wakeup can extend past when they were typically waking up in the afternoon, pushing the bedtime a little later too. If your baby starts taking shorter naps or waking cranky, you will know that nap time is not right for him.

3) Move your bedtime later….SLOWLY…..push back bedtime by 15-minute increments every few days to see if your wakeup extends a little later. Make sure you don’t get 40-minute intruders or sleep cries throughout the night, indicating that your child is overtired. If you find that your child’s wake-up moves earlier, go back to the earlier bedtime.  The later bedtime won’t be worth it.  After a few weeks, you can attempt to move the bedtime later again.

4) Focus on the wake time between the second nap and bedtime. OK, here’s my bonus tip, and usually the first thing I focus on when trying to shift bedtime.  If your child is currently up for 3.5 hours before bedtime, try stretching to about 3.75 and then 4 hours between naps and bedtime. Again if things get off, go back to the previous time.  You’ll know if your child can tolerate things if your wake up gets later and later.  Fingers crossed for you!!!


Follow these tips for shifting your bedtime a little later without allowing the Jenga pieces to fall. Also, remember, an early bedtime now might not be a bad thing – enjoy the time that you can either spend with your older children or time spent watching TV or eating dinner in peace… so you might not want to make that bedtime later at all!

Susie Parker

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

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