How We Moved Bedtime Later (and still got 12 hours of sleep!)
If you’ve been following us on Instagram for a while, you know that our girls share a room and have been for about 2 years (since they were 8mo and 2 years old). Since starting a solid bed TIME around 4 months old we have only ever done a 6:30PM or 7PM bedtime. Until...last week!! Here’s how we made the decision…
Our oldest (4.5 yo) was fighting bedtime. Ellie would get IN bed, but pulled alllll the stops to get us to come back. Not letting go of our necks when we hugged, saying she had to go potty (again), come help her find socks to wear, saying she didn’t hear the song I sang….the list goes on! And when she wasn’t trying to speak to us over the monitor, she would just play in her bed. One night she took almost 2 hours to go to sleep!!
Our youngest (3 yo) stopped falling asleep almost instantly. Both of our girls dropped their nap at 2 years and 4 months old. (Yes, that’s early! You can hear the whole story here.) Monday through Friday both Ellie and Hattie are at preschool from 8:30AM to 1PM and by the end of the day Hattie was exhausted come bedtime! The moment we closed the door, walked downstairs to get the monitor...she was asleep! Clearly overtired. Come 6:45AM she was still sleeping, and it was Ellie who was making noises and starting to wake her up. In the last several weeks, Hattie has also been playing bedtime games. They’d sing the PJ Masks theme song, talk to their buddies, put socks on, have a party!
So….we did an accidental experiment!
One weekend Ellie had her ballet dress rehearsal on Friday at 6:30PM. All 4 of us went to take pictures and enjoy the fun. We were home by 7:15PM for a quick PB&J snack, and into bed by 7:45PM.
THEY DIDN’T STIR UNTIL 7:20AM!!!!!
So, we tried it again.
They slept until 7:30AM!
I took my own advice I give to clients, and continued this same bedtime for a full week. And every time, they slept past 7AM! At most we had to actually go wake them at 7:35AM to get ready for summer camp!
IT WAS GLORIOUS!!!!
Now over a week later we’ve had 7:30PM (latest 7:45PM) bedtimes with the average morning start time at 7:20AM.
Sure we’ve had one or two mornings where they woke before 7AM, but we can pretty much always pin-point why: hole in the blackout curtains or not enough energy out the day before. Every night they are averaging 11.5-12 hours of sleep…even moving their bedtime later!
It’s also so crazy what just 30 minutes difference does for us! Now after dinnertime we can enjoy a walk around the neighborhood, bike ride, or even extra book time at bedtime if we want! The flexibility has been amazing!
It’s important to note that we’re aiming for a solid 11-12 hours of night sleep for children 6 months up to 5 years old.
To help you determine if this is the right move for your family I’ve put together some If…Then statements!
If your baby has been waking up early…
>> Then it may not be time for a bedtime change. First, make sure they aren’t getting too much daytime sleep! If they are, cut back there first. THEN start with a 15 min later bedtime for 4-5 nights to test!
If your baby has been taking more than 15 minutes to fall asleep for bedtime…
>> Then make sure they have appropriate awake time windows! If awake times are fine, then you could test a later bedtime.
If you have a baby who is waking up 30-60 minutes after going down for bedtime…
>> then it’s not a later bedtime you need! It’s longer awake times during the day!
If your toddler is on 1 nap and taking more than 15 minutes to fall asleep at bedtime…
>> make sure they are awake between 4-5 hours between nap and bedtime. If they aren’t, then consider pushing bedtime 15-30 minutes later. Or wake up after 2-2.5 hours of nap.
If your toddler is not taking a nap and taking more than 15 minutes to fall asleep at bedtime…
>> make sure they have a LOT of activity time in the afternoon/evening and consider a bedtime 15-30 minutes later.
Of course knowing these details means that you’ve got a solid schedule going! Wondering what your child’s schedule should be? USE MY FREE SCHEDULE GENERATOR!
If it Is it time to move bedtime later, go for it! No weaning little by little necessary. Just add extra 30 minutes and see what happens!
Cheers to finding your little one’s right bedtime!