Every family has its own requirements when it comes to bedtime but in general, most children should be in bed between 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. The exact time will depend on the child's age, the sleep needs for that individual kid, and the time he or she needs to get up in the morning.
Infants: Around 7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m.
According to WebMD, babies under a year old need about 14 to 15 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. You can't really establish much of a bedtime until they settle into regular sleeping and waking periods but after about four months, that becomes easier. Babies this age take two to three naps per day, and a typical schedule has them waking at 7:00 a.m., napping for a total of three to four hours during the day, and going to bed at around 7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m.
Toddlers: Between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
WebMD notes most children between the ages of one and three years old go to bed between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. They need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day, and they still take one to two naps. Most toddlers are sleeping through the night, often for a stretch of about 11 hours. The bedtime you choose depends on when you need your toddler to be up and ready to go in the morning.
Young Children: Between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
The main sleep change between a toddler and a three- to six-year-old child is he or she will drop the naps at some point. The amount of time slept during the night stays the same, according to WebMD; it's still around 11 hours. Bedtime is still between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., depending on when your child needs to start the day.
Older Kids: Between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least nine to 11 hours for kids between the ages of six and 13. Since most kids need to be up for school by about 6:00 a.m. or 7:00 a.m., this translates to a bedtime between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. However, after-school responsibilities and activities often make a 7:00 p.m. bedtime impractical at this point, and many kids stay up until 8:00 p.m.
Teens: Between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
As children reach the teen years, they still require eight to 10 hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. They often go to bed around 9:00 pm or 10:00 p.m. in order to be up and ready for school in the morning. If they end up short on sleep due to extra-curricular or social activities, they often catch up by sleeping in on the weekend.
Each Child Is Different
Some children may need more sleep than others, especially if they have health conditions or special needs. Parents Magazine notes sleep quality can be low in children with Down's Syndrome, autism, and other developmental disorders, and these children may need to go to bed earlier to make up for the lack of quality.
Kids who struggle with insomnia may also need to go to bed on the early side to make up for sleep lost during the night. Additionally, children with ADHD may struggle with falling asleep and may need to begin the bedtime routine earlier to wind down.
Parents Know Best
Ultimately, parents know their children best and can determine the appropriate bedtime based on the needs of their unique child. It may take some experimentation to find the perfect bedtime for your child and your schedule, but it's worth establishing in order to have happy, healthy kids.