When Is a 'Normal' Bedtime for a Toddler?

Updated on December 20, 2007
A.H. asks from Bowling Green, KY
14 answers

I have an 18 month old daughter whose typical bedtime is around 7:30pm (Central time). We wake her up around 5:45am every morning in order to get her ready for daycare and us ready for work. She has had this routine with no major issues for quite some time now. However, for the last week or so, she has gone to bed as normal with no problems, only to wake up around 8:30 or 9pm wanting to get up after only being asleep for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Sometimes it even happens later in the night, like at 1 or 2am. She then cries her head off (that angry, shrill "I'm not getting my way" cry...I'm sure you Mothers know what I'm talking about) when we try to make her go back to sleep. I really don't know what is triggering this. I don't know if it is teething, separation anxiety, or just plain thinking she is missing out on something fun. My husband and I have tried letting her go to bed a little later, or letting her get up for 10-15 minutes when she does start crying, and even just letting her cry it out until she gets so tired and gives up and falls asleep (which we did last night and it took about 45 minutes). I'm wondering if we are putting her to bed too early now as compared to other toddlers her age...although when she goes to bed, she does seem tired and ready to sleep. We just can't get her to stay asleep as we used to.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of the responses. We are still struggling with her sleep, but she did better last night. I'm beginning to think her disruption is most likely due to a combination of teething and the anxiety from the impending Holidays. I hadn't even really thought about it, but after a few of you mentioned it, it makes sense to me that she is aware that something 'big' is going on (Christmas) and she just doesn't understand it yet. The decorations, trees, and activities at daycare may be causing her a little extra stress. The daycare teachers told me she hasn't been sleeping as well there either during the afternoon nap. We are just going to have to ride it out I guess and hopefully after the Holidays she will settle down.

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answers from Texarkana on

I have a 2 year old and a three year old and they go to bed between 7:30 and 8 because they have to get up at 5:30. At 18 months I would bet that she might be getting her 2 year molars...that is when both of mine started cutting theirs. Unfortunatly it seems to take forever but there are breaks in there.

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answers from Lafayette on

I have 4 kids & I was never strict on a toddler bedtime. I would try at around 9:00 or so, but a lot of times it's not until close to 10. Between the long night & then a nap at daycare, she may be getting too much sleep now. Their sleeping needs change from time to time. I would give her a test run at 8:30 & see how she does. It can't be any worse than what ur going thru now :)
It'll work itself out.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

there is no "normal" bedtime for a toddler...but midnight is a bit unreasonable. (j/k) you can shoot for a goal of a ballpark time frame but honestly...don't count on making it. i have a 4 and half y/o and 10mo old and the only one that ever makes it to bed at around the same time every night is the 10mo old. and even most nights its late. as a single mom, i have no choice but to get them on my schedule. i started a routine, dinner, bath time, then some mommy time or reading a book (with the 4 y/o) and then bed...and oh no, the dreaded crutch of a single mom, i admit it...sometimes the tv puts her to sleep. you know, whatever works for you. i know i'll probably be criticized for the tv thing, but if it keeps her quiet till the baby is asleep then whatever works. although, now i'm wishing hadn't been such a push over momma the 1st time and started putting the oldest in bed and letting her fall asleep on her own. i would probably spend more time in my bed than hers. good luck! you'll find a routine that works for the two of you!

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answers from Shreveport on

My daughter goes to bed around 9:30-9:45 pm central time. She has most of her 4 years of life. She gets up at about 7:15 am with me to get ready for daycare unless her daddy takes her, then she gets to sleep till about 9 or 9:30. She gets a 2 hour nap at school so I know she's not missing out on sleep. On the weekends, we will let her stay up late. She likes to sleep in with mom on Saturdays. She will wake up, come get in bed with me, turn on the cartoons and usually pass back out for an hour or so. My husband is a bartender and our schedule has been his since the day she was born so shes accusomed to it.



answers from Tuscaloosa on

Is your daughter getting a good afternoon nap? If she is not, it may be that she is using 7:30 as nap time and ready to get up after 1 1/2 hours. In this day and age a 7:30 bedtime is not realistic due to busy schedules but since she has to get up so early I would be concerned about putting her to bed much later. Our schedule is bed around 8:30 to 9:30 and she gets up around 7:30 to 8am. My guess it it is a phase with one of the above problems (teeth, anxiety). When my daughter gets after a little while of sleeping I go in there and sit in a chair by her bed until she falls asleep which she is not always happy about but its getting better. She knows that I am there and that she is safe.



answers from Nashville on

My little girl is 17 months now. She has trained us that she only wants one nap a day now, so that is all she is getting, however she does take 2 or 3 hour naps. At night she is ready to go to bed about 7 and she sleeps till about 7 the next morning. We went through a stage like that for a few days and it was at a time when there was alot going on around the house. I think she could feel my nerves and tension.
Sometimes I think that when there is something going on, they know is and they feel it. It is so close to Christmas, maybe she feels the excitement but just can't fathom what is going on yet at 18 months. I think this is something that you will have to ride out and I bet after the excitement and hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, she will settle down. If you don't think that it is Christmas, check around at the daycare and see if there has been changes there. I bet you find that they are a little more upbeat right now too with Christmas going on and she just don't know what is going on but yet she can feel the excitement along with everyone elses and it is scarey because she isn't sure what is going on.
Personally I think that waking up like that is an anxiety response. Just think about it. When you are worried, you don't sleep well either. I bet you that Christmas has alot to do with it.... all of the excitement in the air coming from every direction.



answers from Shreveport on

Hello I have to say it's entirely up to you, I have twins that are 20 months and they go through stages like that as well. And believe me it's no fun. Mine wake each other up so it's two screaming. But I could never figure out what it was teething nightmare ect... I just would have to let them scream it out and eventually they got back on a normal routine. Lately we have let them stay up a little later they go to bed between 8:00-8:30. I know it sucks to listen top that I am a stay at home mom so usually if they don't stop I have to get up with them so Daddy can sleep. It should get better but you have to stick to it. Don't go in there everytime cause they know you will from now on. Or that's what my ped. Dr said.



answers from Baton Rouge on

If you get a response back on this PLEASE send it to me. I have been having the same problem with my 18 month old girl. She goes to bed at 7:30 pm and wakes up about 10:00 pm and wants to play. We normally let her play in her room then she alls asleep by the baby gate about 30 minutes later. In the morning we get up at 6:00 to get ready for daycare and work and I have to fight with her to get up in the morning. I don't know what to do with her. The past couple of weeks she has been waking up screaming like she is having night mares and nothing I do comforts her. she just lays in my arms and cries. I have got to get some sleep. I only get about 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night. I know the feeling you are going through.



answers from Knoxville on

I know that toddler's bedtimes vary from child to child ... trust me, my friends and I all have very different bedtimes for our children (who are all around the same age)! ;) Personally, we've always let our children and their needs dictate bedtime (as long as it still stays early enough so they get enough sleep).

My daughter, who will be one the end of this month, is a terrible sleeper (especially right now). She has a hard time making it past 6 or 6:30 every night, and sleeps until about 6 or 7 the next morning. She doesn't nap well though, and is usually just dead tired by early in the evening. She's been teething terribly bad lately, and it's made sleeping (in the day and at night) a nightmare! ;)

My son, who will be 3 in February, has started staying up until about 8 or 8:30 p.m., but that's been a recent thing. He used to be in bed by 7 or 7:30. He'll sleep until 6:30 or 7:30 on average, as well. He also takes one nap a day (for about 2 hours on average).

So, they both get between 10-12 hours a sleep a night, with an hour or two naps during the day. I think children are unique though, and need different amounts of sleep. I found if I let my kids stay up too late, they end up getting up earlier in the morning and they are just cranky and sleepy all day! ;)

Good luck finding a bedtime that works for all of you. She may be going through something developmentally (with language, teething, etc.) that's throwing her off right now. Best of luck to you!



answers from Baton Rouge on

My son is 2 and used to go to bed between 730 and 8 every night. We are currently going through changes so it's been whenever lately. But what I found was waking him up sometimes was that he had to go potty. Are you potty training her? Even if you are not, she may be becoming aware of when she has to go and it is quite possible to be waking her up!



answers from Tuscaloosa on

8:30 has always been my kids' bed time any earlier and they would get up and stay up for 3-4 more hours. We normally don't get home frmo work/school/daycare until between 5:30 and 6:00 and dinner is usually done by 7:00 pm so an 8:30 bedtime gives us time for baths bedtime stories, snuggles, and tooth brushing.

My kids are 5 and 3 now but 8:30 pm has been their bed time since they were babies. We also get up between 5:30-6:00 am to get ready for the day.



answers from Chattanooga on

my dd is almost 21 mths and goes to bed between 7 and 730 most nights, some nights it's 8-830 but always sleeps for at least 12 hrs and her naps are pretty much non existent now b/c when I transitioned her bed she started waking at about 9-930 and on days she gets up earlier than 7 am i try to get her to nap because she just can't make it wihtout one on those days but once i adjusted to no naps on a general day she has slept through the night



answers from Little Rock on

I would say your bedtime is very appropriate for her age and wake-up time. Our bedtime is 8:00, and they wake-up at 6:30-7:00, with about a 3 hour nap in the afternoon.

Your daughter is prime age to start having night terrors. Could her shriek be fear instead of anger? Teething is another possibility.

We have found a great homeopathic remedy for such problems. It's called Calms Forte 4 Kids. You simply give them 2 tiny tablets that dissolve almost instantly in their mouth. It helps them calm down and sleep soundly. It even helps some with teething. I'd try it before bed and then again if she wakes up. A nightlight might also help if she doesn't already have one.

If it is teething, there is also something called teething tablets, made by Hyland's. They also dissolve in the mouth quickly and worked well with several of our kids. And there's always the old standard of Tylenol or Motrin/ibuprofen.



answers from Memphis on

It sounds like it's about time to adjust her nap schedule.
She might be ready for a longer afternoon nap, staying up until 8 pm. to sleep threw the night. Good luck.
My children are seven and eleven years old so we did this stuff a few years ago.

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