Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quick Tip: Don't Move Bedtime Up too Soon

If you've been reading this blog, you know that babies typically start to concentrate one longer stretch of sleep during the night time hours sometime between 3 and 4 months of age. Of course, parents are more than ready to get a little more sleep by then and it is easy for them to believe that babies should always sleep for 4 to 5 hours once they can "achieve" that first concentrated stretch. Parents who have been putting their babies to bed at 11 pm or midnight in order to sleep until 4 or 5 am, might think they can now move the bedtime up closer to 7 or 8 pm, enjoy some time together, and get two or even three long stretches of sleep each night. might want to wait on that.

When your baby first starts concentrating a long stretch during the night time hours, you might find that you only get one longer stretch. If you put your baby to bed at 8, she might give you that long stretch until midnight or 1 a.m. then, wake up again at 3, 4:30, and 7 am! You're not doing anything wrong, your baby just isn't ready to have several long stretches of sleep yet. To avoid some frustration, you might want to wait to move up your baby's bedtime until she becomes more consistent with combining shorter periods of waking with longer stretches of sleep. For lots of babies, that happens when they are around 6 months old. It will will. In the meantime, remember to get some help at home. More sleep is just a few weeks away.

Heraghty JL et al. The physiology of sleep in infants. Arch Dis Child. 2008; 93: 982-985.


  1. Ah, that makes sense... I was actually trying to do that. Thanks for the tip!

  2. My daughter is 4 months old and she usually falls asleep by 10pm. I had so many family members tell us that is too late for a baby. But we are following her lead. She just started sleeping longer stretches at night but it isn't always consistent. Thanks for the great advice!

  3. I had a similar experience with my little one. He would sleep a 4-5 hr chunk, then a 3 hour chunk, then a 2!

    He's now 7 1/2 months and sleeping through the night (we are SO lucky) - so hang in there, it does get better!!

  4. This is a great post, first time I read this!

    It confirms our experience: during the first 10 weeks or so, our baby went to bed around midnight and then slept a long stretch of 4-8 hours, mostly around 5-6, which was great, because it matched our sleeping hours.
    Approaching 3 months, his bedtime automatically moved earlier, around 9PM, which meant he would wake up around 2PM and then again at 4 or 5 and so on, which was a lot worse for us!