When An Early Bedtime Will Help Your Infant Sleep Better

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I LOVE an early bedtime! Most parents fear an early bedtime. The number one concern I hear when I suggest offering an early bedtime is “I don’t want my child to wake up even earlier because I put them down earlier.” Well, good news – it doesn’t work like that!

There are many times when an early bedtime can be beneficial. I’m breaking down some of the most common ones below.


 Yes, I know that this seems counterintuitive, but it works! You can put your child to sleep earlier, and they will actually sleep later. I talk a lot about the causes for early morning wakings in my blog post All About Early Wakings, but essentially one of the leading causes for early wakings is over-tiredness.

early morning

When your child doesn’t get enough daytime sleep or their night sleep is extremely broken up they will be overtired. When a child is overtired, their bodies begin to produce an excess amount of cortisol (aka adrenaline). Excess cortisol makes it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

When you offer an earlier bedtime, you help prevent early morning wakings by

  1. You prevent them from becoming overtired in the first place
  2. You are providing them with the additional sleep they need to catch up.

You really can’t go wrong!


ATTENTION! In case you’ve never heard this before, night sleep will get better before naps get better. Naps are hard! The human body was not designed to sleep during the day. There are many reasons why your child might be bad a napping. A few of the most common reasons include: they are 2 – 4 months old (which by definition means they hate to nap), they have always been a bad napper, or they are a daycare babe who just is too distracted to sleep during the day. In any of these cases, an early bedtime might be a good idea.

Every child has a total daily sleep requirement based on their age. If they aren’t a good napper, chances are they are falling short of that goal. An early bedtime can help contribute some extra shut eye at a time when it is naturally easier for your little one to sleep.


Dropping naps can be tricky. Until your child starts to get the hang of their new schedule, it isn’t abnormal for them to be a disaster by bedtime. Less naps generally equal less daytime sleep.  Even if your child is showing all the signs of readiness to drop a nap, less daytime sleep might make them overtired (temporarily).

If you are in the process of dropping a nap, an evening catnap may be tempting. But, don’t do it. I always advise against offering a catnap. Instead, offer an earlier bedtime for a few nights until everyone is adjusted to the new schedule change.


Things like doctor’s appointment, travel, and errands can really though a wrench in your typical daily schedule. Early bedtimes can really help you “catch up” on an off day.

An early bedtime doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. You can always offer it as a quick fix solution for an off day. We do this all the time in our house! Whenever the day started earlier than normal, naps were bad or short, or someone is in a bad mood, we move bedtime 30 minutes earlier!

How To Offer An Early Bedtime

early bedtime

 An early bedtime is just as easy as it sounds! Simply move your bedtime routine, and ultimately bedtime, anywhere from 30-60 minutes earlier. How early depends on just how much extra sleep your little needs.

 If an early bedtime means that your child won’t have a full wake window before bedtime, don’t sweat it! Keeping them up later solely for the sake of a wake window is generally going to do more harm than good for your already exhausted child.

 In Summary

It’s so easy and it works! Use the early bedtime to your advantage – it doesn’t have to be a permanent solution. An early bedtime can be a temporary fix for a crazy day, off naps, or an early morning. To move up your child’s bedtime, just do it. Complete the normal steps of your bedtime routine 30-60 minutes earlier than you normally would. Chances are your child has no clue what time it is anyways!

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I'm Kristen

The expert & woman behind the screen. I'm also your new best friend who is ready to empower you on this incredible journey.

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