Recommended Bed Times for Children

Written by kathryn walsh
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Recommended Bed Times for Children
Babies need up to 15 hours of sleep a day. (sleep sleep image by Vanessa van Rensburg from

Each child is different, and no two children have the exact same sleep needs. Parents should focus on creating a sleep routine for each child and aim to set a scheduled naptime and bedtime. If the child is waking up before sunrise, his bedtime may need to be pushed back or he may need to wake up earlier from his nap. If a child is cranky and drowsy, he may need to get to bed earlier. WebMd offers these specific guidelines for childen's sleep.

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0 to 12 Months

In the first year of life, babies need about 14 to 15 hours of sleep. However, some babies will sleep up to 18 hours a day. A baby who is younger than 6 months old will usually take up to three naps a day, dropping to two daily naps between the ages of 6 and 12 months. Most babies sleep through the night by the time they are 3 months old and may sleep from eight to 12 hours at night. Each baby's bedtime is different and may be determined by when and for how long she naps. If she naps in the early afternoon, an appropriate bedtime may be as early as 6 p.m. If she naps until 5 p.m, she may not fall asleep until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m.

1 to 2 Years Old

Children who are 1 to 3 years old need around 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day, which often includes one to two naps of a few hours each. Some children may not nap during the day and sleep for a longer period at night. The recommended bedtime for toddlers is between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. A child who doesn't nap during the day or who has to wake up early in the morning for day care should go to bed closer to 7 p.m.

3 to 6 Years Old

Children who are between 3 and 6 years old should get between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a day. Many 3- and 4-year-old children still take afternoon naps of one to two hours, with the daily nap getting gradually shorter and then stopping by the time the child is 5. The recommended bedtime at this age is the same as for toddlers -- between 7p.m. and 9 p.m.

7 to 12 Years Old

School-aged children should get between 10 and 11 hours of sleep a night, although researchers have found they only get an average of nine. Because of the additional school work and activities that children in this age range have to fit into a day, it can be difficult for a child to get to bed early enough. The recommended bedtime for children in this age range is any time from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

12 to 18 Years Old

Teenagers should get between eight and nine hours of sleep a night, although few teens actually get that much. It can be difficult for parents to enforce bedtimes for children this age, but if possible, children should get on a sleep schedule in which they go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, rather than skimping on sleep during the week and trying to "catch up" on the weekends. Sleep experts recommend that teenagers be given some flexibility to set their own bedtimes, as long as they get at least eight hours of sleep each night.

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