Finding the correct bedtime for a baby is just one of many issues parents face with their sleeping habits. In the first year, a baby’s sleep pattern changes a lot as they grow and develop – but overall, they get a better quality of sleep when they go to bed early.
To change a baby’s bedtime, do it gradually over a few nights – don’t make dramatic changes from one day to the next. Instead, keep the baby’s bedtime routine the same, but start earlier, by 10 – 15 minutes each night.
Changing a baby’s bedtime can be tricky, and parents can’t do it overnight, but with the right advice and patience, they can help their little one transition smoothly into an early bedtime.
A good sleep schedule is vital if parents want a healthy, happy baby. So, it’s worth knowing how to set an earlier bedtime. If you want to know the facts about how to move a baby’s bedtime, so it’s earlier, take a look at our guide below.
Why Is It Good for Babies to Have an Early Bedtime?
It’s good for babies to have an early bedtime because they get the best quality of sleep between 7:00 pm and 12:00 am. Good quality sleep is essential for a baby’s development, and babies with an early bedtime sleep better.
Many parents think if their baby has a later bedtime, they will sleep longer in the morning, but a baby’s sleep pattern isn’t the same as an adult’s.
If the baby goes to bed too late, there’s a chance they might be overtired, which will result in inadequate quality and disrupted sleep.
Babies usually wake up between 6:00 and 8:00 am, regardless of when they go to bed, so if they go to sleep too late – they won’t get enough rest.
Most babies have a drowsy period between 7:00 and 8:00 pm, so an early bedtime is more fitting to their natural sleep cycles.
A good bedtime routine from an early age sets your child up for a lifetime of healthy sleeping habits.
Reading this article on bedtime routines will also help parents struggling: Baby’s Bedtime: What’s too early, what’s too late and what’s just right?
What’s The Ideal Bedtime for Babies According to Their Age?
Newborn babies don’t have a bedtime – they sleep where and when they want during the night and day. At 2 – 4 months old, babies should go to bed between 8:00–11:00 pm, but from 4 months old, they should go earlier, usually between 6:00 and 8:00 pm.
Babies develop a lot in the first year, and their sleep cycles change as they grow. So, to give us a clear idea about the ideal bedtimes for babies according to their age and development, we’ve laid it all out in the age groups below.
Here’s some extra information about bedtime and sleep for your baby in this article we wrote: Do Babies Sleep Better with Earlier Bedtime?
Age Group #1 – Babies 0 – 2 months old
Newborn babies don’t have a bedtime – as they adjust to life outside the womb, they wake equally as much during the day and night.
Newborns need lots of sleep and food as they grow and develop, so parents should feed them on demand and let them sleep as much as they want.
Parents should put newborns down to sleep when they show signs they’re tired such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, and staring off into space.
To help newborns adjust to night and day, ensure they get plenty of sunlight during the daytime and keep their environment calm, dark, and quiet in the evenings.
Age Group #2 – Babies 2 – 4 months old
The ideal bedtime for babies aged 2 – 4 months old is between 8:00 to 11:00 pm. This is because from 2 or 3 months old, babies develop their circadian rhythm, which gives them a sense of day and night.
So, from this age, most babies will start to sleep for more extended periods at night.
We can start a bedtime routine with our babies from around three months old, which is the perfect way to introduce bedtime. It’s good to start with a late bedtime to help babies adapt to the idea of sleeping overnight.
Age Group #3 – Babies 4 – 8 months old
Babies aged 4 – 6 months should ideally go to bed between 6:30 – 7:30 pm. However, at this age, most babies are used to sleeping more at night, so it’s a suitable time to make their bedtime a little earlier.
From 6 months old, parents can use sleep training to help their baby sleep earlier and for longer periods at night. Sleep training is the best way to teach a baby healthy, lifelong sleeping habits.
To learn how to sleep train your baby, read this article: How to Sleep Train Your Baby: a Complete and Helpful Guide.
Age Group #4 – Babies 8 – 12 months old
The ideal bedtime for babies aged 8 – 12 months old is between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. However, at around eight months old, many babies drop a daytime nap, so it’s a good time to bring bedtime earlier.
Can You Change Baby’s Sleep Schedule?
Parents can change a baby’s sleep schedule to help them sleep better at night. Changing a baby’s sleep schedule is a necessary part of parenting because the baby needs to learn healthy sleeping habits. Usually, they must change the baby’s sleep schedule regularly in the first year.
Newborn babies don’t have a set sleep schedule, but after 8 -12 weeks old, we can introduce a bedtime routine for our babies. When they have a bedtime routine, it’s easier to adjust their sleep schedule.
How Do You Move a Baby’s Bedtime Earlier?
To move a baby’s bedtime earlier, make a plan in advance. Set bedtime according to their age and development and make the change gradually, over the space of a few days. Changing a baby’s bedtime isn’t an overnight process, so patience and consistency are key.
It’s better for a baby’s development if they have a good night’s sleep. So, for more information about how to move a baby’s bedtime earlier, look at our tips below.
Tip #1 – Do it gradually
The best way to move a baby’s bedtime earlier is to do it gradually, over a few days. If you move it by an hour at once, the dramatic change will disrupt your baby’s sleep pattern. So, do it slowly to help the little one adapt.
If we want to avoid many sleepless nights and an overtired baby, we should change their bedtime by 10 – 15 minutes per night.
Tip #2 – Do it according to your baby’s age and development
Babies have different sleep needs according to their age, so when parents want to move their baby’s bedtime earlier, they should do it according to their age and development.
Newborns don’t have a set bedtime – we should let them sleep as much as they want until they’re about 8 – 12 weeks old.
When parents start a bedtime routine, it’s good to give the baby a later bedtime between 8:00 – 11:00 pm. As they get older, their bedtime can be earlier to help them sleep better throughout the night.
If the baby is six months old, parents can use sleep training methods to make their bedtime earlier.
For exhausted parents who want to know if sleep training is suitable for their baby, please read this article: Is Sleep Training Good for Your Baby? What You Need to Know.
Tip #3 – Make a bedtime routine and stick to it
The best way to change a baby’s sleeping habits is by creating a bedtime routine that helps them wind down before sleeping. Babies love routine and form sleep associations with the things that happen around bedtime.
Before changing a baby’s bedtime, ensure a bedtime routine is in place.
Changing a baby’s sleep schedule is easier when there is a good bedtime routine. If parents keep everything in the routine the same when changing their baby’s bedtime, they will hardly notice it is 10 minutes earlier.
Start the routine around 30 minutes before bedtime, and here are a few things that parents can incorporate into it:
- Feeding – Feed the baby at the start of the routine, not as they fall asleep. If parents feed their babies to sleep, they will form a negative sleep association, and they won’t be able to sleep without it.
- Bathing – Give the baby a warm bath to help them wind down for bedtime.
- Clean pajamas – After bathing the baby, give them a clean diaper and a fresh set of jammies.
- Massage – Gently massage the baby to help them fall asleep.
- Stories and lullabies – A parent’s voice is a powerful tool that they can use to help a baby fall asleep, so sing them lullabies or read stories as part of their routine. We can also play white noise or shush the baby to sleep.
- Calm Setting – Before bedtime, don’t overstimulate the baby – keep their environment quiet and relaxed and ensure no bright light or noise.
Tip #4 – Be prepared
Before changing a baby’s bedtime, plan and make sure to have everything prepared. It’s also a good idea for parents to shift their routine to fit in with the baby’s new sleep schedule.
This change could be like making an evening meal earlier or getting in an early night.
If parents plan to change their baby’s bedtime in the summer, it’s a good idea to get some blackout curtains to stop daylight from entering the baby’s room. The baby will find it hard to fall asleep with the sun blasting through the window.
Have trouble getting your baby to sleep because of daylight savings time? Find out more about why and what to do about it here.
Tip #5 – Adjust daytime naps to suit the new bedtime
Daytime naps play a crucial role in a baby’s nighttime sleeping habits, so we must adjust their naps to fit the new bedtime. They must take their last nap of the day earlier if we want them to go to bed early.
As the baby grows, they need fewer naps. So, if they’re older than six months, consider cutting one from their daytime sleep schedule to help them sleep better.
Tip #6 – Act on their sleep cues
When babies are sleepy, they give off sleep cues or signals. The most common sleep cues are yawning, staring off into space, rubbing their eyes, and being lethargic and inactive.
The ideal time to put a baby to bed is when they show sleep signals. It works with their natural cycle and helps them get used to falling asleep in their crib.
If parents miss their baby’s sleep signals, they might find themselves dealing with an overtired baby who will find it hard to get asleep.
What other sleep cues are there? Read this article: How to Recognize and Use Your Child’s Sleep Signs and Cues.
Tip #7 – Be Calm and Patient
Each baby is different when it comes to moving bedtime earlier – some babies will hardly notice the change, while others may be disturbed by the new routine. In addition, it can take a few days for a baby to adapt to its new bedtime. So, we must be patient and consistent.
Babies pick up on their parent’s emotions – this is why parents need to plan their routine changes. For example, there might be some stress at bedtime if there is no preparation, and the baby will sense this.
Parents must be calm and relaxed to show their baby there’s nothing to worry about with their new routine change.
How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Earlier at Night?
When getting a baby to sleep earlier at night, make gradual adjustments to their sleep schedule – don’t make dramatic changes overnight. Give the baby plenty of time to wind down before bedtime and use their sleep cues to signal that it’s time for them to go to bed.
Here’s a summary of the things parents can do to get their baby to sleep earlier at night:
- First, introduce a sleeping routine and be consistent with it.
- Make changes to bedtime gradually – don’t do it from one night to the next.
- Adjust your baby’s daytime naps to suit the new, earlier bedtime – especially the last one of the day.
- Adjust your schedule to accommodate the baby’s new bedtime.
- Be calm and patient with the baby.
- Put the baby to bed when they show sleep signals – don’t let them get overtired.
- Sleep train the baby if they’re older than six months.
Best Products To help Move Your Baby’s Bedtime Earlier
When trying to get your baby’s bedtime moved earlier, having the right products can make a big difference. Here are some of the best products we’ve found, used, or been recommended by parents like you.
This site uses paid referral links from carefully selected advertising partners. I only promote products I like, use, and recommend. As an Amazon Associate, I can earn from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclaimer in the terms and conditions for additional details.
- Blackout curtains make bedtime easier because you aren’t reliant on natural darkness to make sleeping easier. These curtains, available on Amazon, are a great option that comes in various sizes and colors to match any decorating theme!
- Try these blackout fabric shades in instances where curtains won’t work (click here to see pricing on Amazon).
- The white noise machine we use is this one, but having a white noise machine you can control with a phone app (like this one on Amazon) would have been great for those times when you forget to turn on the machine and don’t want to risk sneaking into the room.
- Bedtime routines need rituals; the best rituals may involve things like bedtime stories or rubbing the baby’s back. If stories are your thing, here’s a cute book on Amazon. Or if baby back rubs are more your style, here’s a baby’s massage oil option with lavender.
For our full list of recommended products and resources, check out our dedicated tools page here, where you can see what works and is awesome. We made sure to organize it so you can find exactly what you need by category.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
The best way to make a baby’s bedtime earlier is to do it according to their age and development. Newborn babies don’t have a set bedtime, but from 2 months old, they can be introduced to a bedtime routine or started with sleep training from 6 months old.
With a good bedtime routine in place, it’s much easier to change their sleeping schedule, but don’t make dramatic changes overnight – change bedtime gradually over a few days.
It’s also important to know that each baby is different. Like adults, some are naturally early or late risers, and not all babies fit into the average sleeping parameters.
The best way to tell when a baby is ready for bed is by watching for their sleep cues.
There is a ton of extra information on how to change your baby’s bedtime and how to achieve that listed here from articles on our site:
- Do Babies Sleep Better with Earlier Bedtime?
- Baby’s Bedtime: What’s too early, what’s too late and what’s just right?
- Earlier Bedtimes: The Key to Managing Sleep Regressions
- Baby Crying During Nighttime Checks? What to Do!
They’re all great articles, so feel free to read whichever one you need. Or, feel free to use our search function to find what you need. We’ve got lots of articles and are adding more regularly. So, if you don’t see your question answered? Contact us and ask. That way, we can help even more parents, including you!
Learning about parenting or sleep training techniques is important to learn from various reputable sources. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as parents.
- DeJeu, Emily. “Baby and Toddler Bedtimes By Age – An Easy Reference Chart from The Baby Sleep Site®.” The Baby Sleep Site – Baby / Toddler Sleep Consultants, 28 Dec. 2021, www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-needs/baby-toddler-bedtime-chart.
- “Early Bedtime vs. Late Bedtime For Babies and Toddlers: Which Is Best?” The Baby Sleep Site – Baby / Toddler Sleep Consultants, 16 Feb. 2022, www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/early-late-bedtime-baby-toddler.
- “Helping Baby Sleep Through the Night.” Mayo Clinic, 25 Feb. 2022, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/baby-sleep/art-20045014?reDate=11072022.
- “How to Shift Baby Bedtime Earlier – Top Tips to Help Your Little One.” Dreamland Baby, 15 Mar. 2021, dreamlandbabyco.com/blogs/news/how-to-shift-baby-bedtime-earlier.
- Parris, Jennifer. “How To Get Baby To Sleep Earlier? Experts Weigh In.” Romper, 30 Nov. 2020, www.romper.com/parenting/how-to-get-baby-to-sleep-earlier-experts-weigh-in.
- “Understanding Newborn Sleepy Cues.” Taking Cara Babies, 10 June 2022, takingcarababies.com/understanding-newborn-sleepy-cues.