Zoom, Zoom–there goes your toddler across the house again. Zoom, Zoom–whether they’re trying to be Catboy, or The Flash–who knows! But they are one giant ball of energy. You had said you were gonna put them to bed early today. But it’s 7:30 and that kid is not gonna just faceplant into their pillow like you’re hoping they would. If you’re being honest, this want for them to go to bed earlier is just because your mom keeps saying things like, “I would have never let my kids stay up that late.” You always roll your eyes and move the conversation along. But maybe a bit of that parent pressure planted a little seed of doubt about your routines. Which brought you to the google search that landed you here, “ Is 9pm to late for toddler bedtime?”. Well guess what–it isn’t (or at least it might not be). Keep reading and you’ll understand what I mean.
The ideal Toddler Bedtime
If you’re new around here–then I’ll let you in on one of my common statements–no two people are the same. So that means the needs of toddlers vary from toddler to toddler. In that same vein, the ideal bedtime really depends on individual needs. So is 9pm an ideal bedtime? Yes–at least for some toddlers, and no for others.
So how do you figure out your ideal toddler bedtime?
Well that’s actually a variable math problem. Kidding, not kidding. The goal of the equation is to make sure that there is enough time for your toddler to sleep from the time they go to bed, to the time they are required to wake. Their bedtime is also going to be impacted by their nap, nap time, and nap length. This is because it is going to impact how much sleep they need overnight. Generally speaking, when choosing bedtime based on the clock, we really wanna make sure of two essential requirements. 1. that there is enough time to get the sleep that they need before it’s time to wake up in the morning. And 2. That the large majority of sleep time happens when it is dark outside.
Is it dark yet?
It is very essential to make sure that the large majority of your toddler’s sleep is happening when it’s dark outside. Since our bodies sync with natural light outside, the healthiest time to sleep is when it’s dark outside. So is 9:00 PM too late? It really depends.
Here’s an example: If your toddler is napping and the amount of time that they need to sleep overnight is 10 hours, for example, cause they’re napping for two hours and their bedtime is 9:00 PM and they have to wake up at 7:00 AM then it’s a perfect bedtime for you. For most families with toddlers, bedtime ranges between around 7:00 PM and nine, maybe even 9:30 PM if they’re napping during the day and are getting close to dropping that nap.
Signs that your bedtime timing is good and working for you and your toddler.
Okay–so now that we know that bedtimes are dependent on your individual toddler (and everything else we listed) it’s time to uncover how we’ll know things are “good,” and how we’ll know that things need to be adjusted. So, if it’s taking them 5 minutes or less OR 30 minutes or more to fall asleep, there might be something that needs adjustment.
Now, let’s start with things are in the goldilocks zone (just right):
- Fall asleep easily.
- Don’t get a second wind.
- No fighting about going to sleep.
- When you’re done with your bedtime routine, they’re actually ready amd happy to go to sleep.
- Takes between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep
Their overnight sleep is good and consolidated.
And if they do have any wakes, they’re easily resettled. Another sign that your bedtime routine is right and timing is right, is that the routine feels easy, smooth, connected. You’re having a good time.
It’s easy to get through the routine.
They’re able to follow your instructions and you can get through, like it’s not a battle to get them to get them dressed, brush their teeth and read books. It’s feels smooth and easy, and they’re not having a hard time following through with the routine.
The routine is enjoyable to everybody.
Things feel connected and calm and relaxed, and really helps them prepare for sleep. If you want to know exactly how much sleep your toddler needs from one to five years old, including nap and overnight sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you can head here to grab our normal toddler sleep guide.
But what if it’s not that way for you?
If they’re falling asleep within five minutes, it’s either that you’ve timed your bedtime perfectly or more than likely that they were actually overtired and too tired. Their bedtime routine needed to start earlier.
If it takes them significantly more than 30 minutes, then it’s a sign that things need to shift. It could be that the timing of the bedtime is not right. It could be the activity or the routine before getting ready for sleep or during the day is not making their sleep easy and good, and that needs adjusting.
If you want to learn why your bedtimes are long and how to shorten them, make sure to check out the free realistic toddler sleep webinar. If you’ve already absorbed our free content and still looking for more strategies and solutions, than our Toddler Sleep Essentials Course is your next best step.