How to Move Your Child’s Bedtime Later

4-16 months

Jun 3, 2023

Are you looking to move your child’s bedtime from 7PM to 8PM? How can you shift a bedtime for a baby or toddler later to enjoy more evening time? In this blog and video we’ll share what an ideal bedtime and routine looks like for your child and how we can shift a bedtime later into the evening!

What is an ideal bedtime routine?

Now, before we get into shifting the bedtime let’s first make sure we have a solid bedtime routine foundation.

Having a great bedtime routine makes it slightly easier to shift the bedtime for your child since they have a strong expectation of what happens when the routine is over!

If you don’t have a routine, or if you don’t have anything in place, you need a plan on how to create a bedtime routine that is fun and gets your child in bed between ideally 7 and 8:00 pm and fall asleep within 15 minutes.

If you have a baby between 4-16 months old you can get my ideal baby bedtime routine details here!

For toddlers and preschoolers who are 17 months up to 5 years old you can follow the steps for a bedtime routine here!

Struggling with all parts of sleep? We have a step by step sleep training program available for you to start right now.

Let me preface this with that this plan is not meant for babies. I cannot get your baby to go to bed later. I don’t really ever talk about that because your baby has a very finite awake window. More commonly, babies actually want and crave an earlier bedtime. While you could attempt to adjust their schedule I cannot guarantee that it will work out as planned!

Wondering what schedule your baby should have? Use your free schedule generator to find your baby’s schedule!

How to adjust your Toddler’s Bedtime Later

For your toddler who is taking one nap or for your preschooler who doesn’t nap, we actually could start to shift their bedtime a little bit at a time.

I like to use 15-minute increments as the easiest way to test this out because if 15 minutes makes a giant difference in their morning wake time, we probably shouldn’t adjust their bedtime.

So let me explain: just because we put your child to bed later, doesn’t mean they’re going to wake up later!

If you start to push your toddler’s bedtime 15 minutes later and they wake up even earlier the next morning, this is a sign they may not be ready for a later bedtime!

Your toddler and preschooler really does need a bedtime between 7 – 8:30.

This allows your child to sleep the 10-12 hours at night that their growing bodies need.

If you’ve been stuck in a rut from preschool schedules, school schedules, or just life during the school year, and they have to go to bed at 7, but you’d like to adjust it to 7:30 or 8, we can do this with 15-minute increments.

How to adjust Your child’s schedule with 15-minute Increments

To start moving your child’s bedtime later, move their bedtime by 15 minutes later for one whole week.

If they are normally going to bed at 7:00 PM but you’d like to try 7:45PM instead, then you’ll follow this guide:

  • Week 1 Bedtime of 7:15 PM
  • Week 2 Bedtime of 7:30 PM
  • Week 3 Bedtime of 7:45 PM

I like to camp out on a 15 minute later bedtime for about a week to see how your child adjusts. One day isn’t enough time to judge if this will work out!

While you do adjust the schedule keep in mind what time are they waking up.

Are they waking up even earlier  in the morning than they were at 7:00 bedtime?

If you move bedtime to 7:30 and now they are waking up at 5:30 AM after several nights of testing this later time, its a clear sign that this shift is too much right now.

Try backing up to 7:15 or 7PM to see how the morning start time goes.  Sometimes later bedtimes can create early wakings because your child is overtired, which manifests itself in restless sleep and early starts!

Every child is a little bit different! There’s nothing black and white about sleep. The best thing you can do is test out the 15-minute incriments to see what fits YOUR child best!


If you’re ready to enjoy a later bedtime for your family, you can definitely test this out!

But the first step is to set a solid bedtime routine so the evenings aren’t a battle to start with!

Then you can begin to experiment later bedtimes by shifting your child’s bedtime by 15 minutes later once a week.

Remember 11 to 12 hours is our goal here for toddlers and preschoolers. If they’re getting this much sleep then you’re in the clear!

Spend an entire week testing out the 15 minute later bedtime to see if this fits your child.

Once you find the right bedtime, enjoy the shifted schedule! Get out for a walk after dinner, play games together or whatever you like to do to soak up these extra few minutes!


How to shift your child's bedtime later | Little Z Sleep

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