A.L. asks from Milton, VT on November 23, 2008
Hi there. Any suggestions about what's a good age to start putting a new baby to bed at an earlier kid-bedtime? I'm on my third child and I can't remember when we started them on their 7pm bedtimes--they older ones have long beet into great nighttime rituals and sleep well. The baby's one month old and sleeps a good 4-5 hour spell at the beginning of his night--but at this point it seems to start at 11pm which is later than I'd like (he's napping in and out all day until then). When does it make sense for an infant to move his down-for-the night bedtime earlier? (note: I'm not meaning I expect him to stay asleep all night--I know he'll be up to nurse, but I mean not getting up to play/look around again) Thanks!!
J.R. answers from Providence on November 24, 2008
My daughter is 15 months now, and it is truly hard to recall when she started going down earlier. I am pretty sure it was around 6 months that she started going down around 7:30pm . I remember it being gradual. Like... once she started sleeping longer, I started putting her down earlier and earlier until her waking up schedule lined up with mine.
C.D. answers from Boston on November 24, 2008
For what it's worth this is what my son did: it took until he was 7 months old before I could put him to sleep at 7PM and have him sleep through the night (till 6AM the next day). From 4-7 months old, he'd go down about 9PM or 10PM and sleep through till 6AM.
I think with infants it all depends on how often they eat at night, what kind of napping during the day etc. I think you'll have to wing it based on the baby's schedule. But I think you could start trying to put him/her down a little earlier. They say sleep begets sleep so maybe it will help your little one sleep better!
M.H. answers from Hartford on November 24, 2008
My son is only 20 months & I have a hard time remembering but I think it went like this. Once he slept till 6am we started putting him down a 1/2 hour earlier so 11pm- then 10:30 pm then 10pm, ect ect. But we did 11-6 first. He will now sleep about 12 hours we try to put him down at 7:30pm & he is up arund 7am. As I remember it we hit the 11-6 mark around 3 months & it was smooth sailing from there. I did the "babywise" book( eat-play-sleep) I'm a bad mom & let him the cry it out thing( but he sleeps soooo good). Good luck & hope you are getting real sleep by christmas.
C.K. answers from Boston on November 24, 2008
I also have a one month old and a 23 month old. My first son used to do the same thing stay up in the middle of the night and play. He however had his days and nights confused as most babies do! Now he is a great sleeper because at 6 months old I let him CIO but I was fortunate he did not cry much just played in his crib and fussed more than cried.
Now my one month old is a better sleeper than my first so far at night but sometimes will stay up to "play" in the middle of the night as well. What you and I need to do is try and get them to stay awake more in the day and sleep more at night which is very hard to do as infants sleep a lot. I also find it harder to do with a toddler to tend to as well.
One month old is too young to let them CIO in my opionion so I won't take that approach until he is at least 6 months old if need be. So until then I just have to try and keep him awake as much as possible during the day and suck it up when he is wide awake at night. It is not easy! But they grow so fast and before we both know it they will be one years old and sleeping great!
R.T. answers from Boston on November 24, 2008
I started right away. As soon as my daughter started sleeping mostly at night and staying up more during the day, maybe at 4-6 weeks, I started a bedtime routine. With us, it was a bath every night (not always with washing, just for the routine), getting PJ's on, a bottle, some lullabies, then in the crib while still awake.
Since your child's bedtime is pretty late, you may have to gradually move it early, maybe in 15-30 minute increments. Consider moving the last nap earlier too, and trying to keep him awake for 2 hours before bedtime.
Also, if he's expecting to play in the middle of the night, I would start discouraging that. Keep the lights dim, keep things quiet, don't talk too much.
I wouldn't expect it to work right away, it'll take some time, but this is a great time to really establish a routine. My daughter has had a 7pm bedtime since she was 3 months old and sleeps great most of the time.
Good luck and good sleep!
B.L. answers from Boston on November 25, 2008
I have a completely different experience from the other mothers who have commented here. Neither of my children slept through the night on any consistent basis until they were about 18 months old -- which is when I night-weaned them (Both nursed until about 3 years). With a one-month-old, I would say the most important thing to start trying to establish is that night-time is for sleeping, not playing. When he wakes up, keep the lights dim, snuggle, nurse, sing, listen to music, but all soothing and restful stuff that will hopefully lull him back to sleep. We co-sleep for the first few years, and so having the baby in the bed with us as we slept very much reinforced the night-time is not playtime idea, and it also synchronizes the mom's and baby's sleep cycles so that everyone is likely to sleep more. But even when your baby is in their own room in a crib, you can still teach him that we don't play in the middle of the night. It might be a rough couple of nights, but he'll catch on. I wouldn't suggest keeping him from napping during the day at this point -- he's still very little and needs that sleep. However, if you do get him sleeping more during the night, he'll probably start sleeping less during the day.
I'm pregnant with my third now. My older 2 (7 and 3 1/2) both have an 8:30 bedtime. I think that I will start including the little one in the bedtime routine as early as possible, even if it's only being there and listening to everything without going to bed, and just try to keep things mellow until he's ready to sleep. I know that a consistent bedtime was difficult to establish with the other two until they had consistent naptimes. Then I could start manipulating their schedules to where I wanted them to be, but I haven't had any luck before they start getting on a fairly consistent cycle of their own. I guess the exact timing is different for every child. Anyway, hope that this was at least a bit helpful.