April 01, 2009,
J.P. asks from Phillipsburg, KS on March 28, 2009
What Is a Reasonable Bedtime for a 4 Year Old?
I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old, both girls. They sleep together in the same bed. We try to get them in bed at 7:00 or 7:30 each night. We wake up on weekdays at 7:00 and I let them sleep till they wake up on the weekends, usually they are up by 8. My 2 year old is slowly giving up her naps and my 4 year old hasn't taken a daytime nap in years. The 2 year old usually goes to sleep fairly easily, but my 4 year old keeps getting out of bed and trying to get out of sleeping. Am I trying to get her to go to sleep too early? If I stagger their bedtimes, does anyone have any suggestions on how to do it? I can put them in separate beds (although they say they like sleeping together), but I can't put them in separate rooms. I'm just curious to know what time other moms put their 4 and 2 year olds to bed. Thanks for your input.
L.M. answers from Rapid City on April 01, 2009
My four year old and almost-2 year old are both in bed at 8:30. My 2 year old still takes two hour long naps. They also get up around 7 on weekdays.
Occasionally my four year old will go to bed at 8 and sometimes he can't fall asleep until 9:30. Both of my boys seem to not need as much sleep as my daughter did at their ages.
E.B. answers from Duluth on March 30, 2009
My kids, 5 (in June) and 18 months, go to bed around that time as well. Lately, with it being light out and with my almost-5 having had a cold that hangs on forever, has been going to bed about 8, but then he'll religiously take an afternoon nap. I personally find it hard to put them down when our neighborhood is all awake and still playing in the daylight at 7, but if it works for your family, I don't think the amount of time they're sleeping or the time of day is inaccurate. I also think it will be a good precedent for when she goes to school, esp if that's this coming fall. I am thinking that during the summer, they may stay up til 8 or 8:30, but my kids tend to wake with the dawn (or before) too, so I'll only do that if it means they'll sleep in a bit.
B.W. answers from Minneapolis on March 28, 2009
my boys are 6.5 and 3.5, and they are both in bed by 7:30pm every night.
Maybe she is ready to have her own bed... that way she can go into bed 1/2hr after her sister, and once she is in her bed, no more getting out.
B.H. answers from Minneapolis on March 28, 2009
My 7 yr.old goes to bed at 9-11pm depending on her she's a night owl and wakes up at 8am.
7-7:30 seems really really early to me but every kid is different. My 7 year old is a night owl I've caught her up til 3am before and then my 6mo.old baby is a early bird and asleep for the night on her own by 7-8pm every kid is a little different.
T.S. answers from Fargo on March 29, 2009
Our 4 yr old girl gets up around 7 am...naps at 1 pm for 1-2 hours...and we start bedtime routine at 7 so she's in bed by 8...and sometimes is quiet in her room until 9 pm before she falls asleep.
R.B. answers from La Crosse on March 28, 2009
7-7:30 is very reasonable for a 4 year old. My kids went to bed at 7:30 until they were about 7. When they turned 8 we moved it up to 8. My 12 year old goes to bed at 8:30 still.
S.P. answers from Minneapolis on March 29, 2009
If you're having to wake them up and they're sleeping longer than that on weekends when you don't wake them, then they are not getting enough sleep and should actually go to bed earlier. Every child is different, and the 11-12 hour recommendation is only that, a recommendation. My daughter needed considerably more sleep than that, and still does at age 7 1/2.
It sounds like your four year old is testing you, not that she isn't tired.
L.L. answers from Omaha on March 28, 2009
My 5 year old doesn't take a nap and no matter what time we put him to bed, he's usually up at 630 or 7 am (ugg!). Since he seems to get a second wind after 8 pm or so, we put him down at 730...works great for us! At this age they need about 11-12 hours of sleep per day.
S.G. answers from Rapid City on March 29, 2009
My kids always had a bedtime of 7 and they were up at 6. They did this until we moved into town and they were 11, 9 and 5 at that time. The 7pm bedtime was because they had to catch the school bus by 7am and so that is why we always went with that schedule. It also gave my husband and me time in the evenings for us which I think all parents of young children need. Your youngest daughter might stop going to bed so well if her sister gets to stay up later and then you will have both of them fighting sleep. What I did when my older kids weren't always tired at 7 was give them books (if you could do a little reading light for her) and tell them they could look at books but they had to stay in bed. This was better for my daughter who wasn't into sleep like the boys were and being consistant really worked.
M.K. answers from Appleton on March 29, 2009
I'm sure you will get a lot of "every child is different" responses. There is NO WAY my 4 year old would go to bed at 7 or 7:30, nap or no nap (she's about 50/50 on that now) and we are also up at 7 a.m. We start our bedtime routine around 8:00 and aim to be in bed with books by 8:30. Even after all this quiet time, she still often does not fall asleep until after 9:00! There is no TV in her room. My advise is try starting bedtime 15 minutes to a half hour later and see how it goes; if she's still "protesting" bump back another 15 minutes; try that as long as she still gets up nicely in the morning. Of course there is research suggesting how much sleep kids need at certain ages, but not all kids "fit" the research. I know in the summer, we especially have a hard time with bedtime b/c it's still light out, and even when she just turned 3 and I'd say it's night night time, she told me "Nuh-uh, it's still ligth out, see?" and pulled up her blinds to look outside.
K.B. answers from Minneapolis on March 28, 2009
I have three kids (1, 5 & 11). They go to bed at 8:30pm. They have to get their teeth brushed and jammies on at 8pm. My husband works 3-11, so he calls at 8pm to talk to me and say hi to the kids. I use to get them in bed at 8pm, but this gives them a chance to talk to dad. My kids have never gone to bed before 8pm (unless someone was in trouble and was sent to bed early).
Are they acting really tired at 7pm? Or did you just set that as a bedtime. You could try letting them both stay up until 8pm, or put the 2yr old down at 7-7:30 and the 4yr old down at 8pm, however this may wake the 2yr old up depending if she is a light sleeper or not...What also makes it hard, is that it is still light out at 7pm, so most kids don't want to go to bed that early...
T.N. answers from Minneapolis on March 29, 2009
J., every child is different. Our two have always gone to bed at 8:00, up by 7:00 (at the latest... they wake early). But, if you think they aren't tired (and now it is light much later) you may want to push it back to 8:00 and see what happens. If they are up at 7:00, they are still getting 11 hours of sleep, which is plenty.
It's all trial and lots of error! Good luck!
C.S. answers from Omaha on March 28, 2009
I have a 20 month old and a 4 year old, both go to bed at 8 pm and wake up around 6:30 during the week. They both take a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon though. I don't think their bed time is too early, they are supposed to get around 10-12 hours of sleep every day.
It maybe that if your 4 year old isn't taking a nap that she is so over tired by the time you lay her down that she can't relax to go to sleep. You don't have to make her take a nap but you might need a very consistant bed time routine to help her unwind and relax. Try reading stories while they lay in bed or playing soft music for them to listen to while they drift off. What ever you decide works for her just make sure you do it all the time.
S.K. answers from Minneapolis on March 29, 2009
When my boys were 4 and 2, they slept in the same room and I staggered their bedtimes. 2 year old went to bed at 7, 4 year old at 7:30. They both woke up about 6:30-7. I can't remember them ever sleeping in past 7:15. I would do a bedtime routine with the youngest, then have one on one time with the older one while we waited for the younger to fall asleep. We did the older's bedtime rountine in the living room rather than in the bedroom. He was given clear instructions not to wake his brother and we made sure and turned the night light on at 7 so we could see when we came back at 7:30.
M.F. answers from Minneapolis on March 29, 2009
My kids are 5 1/2 and almost 3 (June). They used to share a room, and the littler one would, for awhile, go to bed 1/2 to one hour before the older one. The older one learned to be super quiet when going to bed. Both kids now go to bed between 8-8:30 depending on the night. My almost three year old still naps most days, my 5 1/2 year old only rarely does. They get up at 6:45 week days and whenever they wake on they weekends, usually between 7-8. It seems to me no matter how early/late I put them to bed, they get up around the same time.
When we had them in the same room with staggered bed times, we would get the pjs out of the room and do the whole routine with the older kid outside the room, we also waited about 1/2 hour before putting the older one to bed so the littler one would be asleep before we put the older one to bed. Good luck to you. Sleep issues are the worst!
K.S. answers from Minneapolis on March 30, 2009
Good for you getting them both to bed so early and for getting them to sleep so long. Sounds like the 4 yr old is growing out of needing 12 hours of sleep and that sounds normal and will probably get more pronounced as we move into spring/summer and more daylight. Maybe it is time to start introducing a staggered routine; one for the 4 yr old and another for the littler ones. That way, when your oldest starts kindergarten and maybe has different routine needs than the younger ones, she will be ready.
Seems to me that they grow out of needing lots of sleep in K-5th grade and then go back into massive sleep consumption mode during their teen yrs.
I have two boys and they also share a room. Sometimes they go to bed at the same time and sometimes not. I have an 8 yr old that gets 10 hours at night and still takes a nap(god bless him) on weekends and a 3 yr old that gets 10 hours at night and takes a 2-3 hour day in the afternoons.
J.F. answers from Minneapolis on March 28, 2009
I have a girl who is almost 5 and a boy who is 3. My daughter stopped taking naps about a month ago and when she did I started putting her to bed at 8:00. She sleeps until about 7. My son who is 3 actually goes to bed later than my daughter at 8:30 because he takes a 2 hour nap during the day.