When should children go to bed?

Healthy sleep patterns are essential for most people. Not getting enough sleep often has serious health consequences. But too much sleep can also put you in a bad mood.

Sleep behavior and how long children sleep is also of particular importance, especially in infancy and preschool age. But how much sleep does a baby really need?

How Long Do Babies Sleep: How Much Sleep Do They Really Need?

All parents know that children need a great deal of sleep, at the age of two to three years, toddlers sleep up to 12 to 13 hours a day on average. But the little ones do not sleep all at once, but rather spread out at all times of the day and night.

But children’s need for sleep drops dramatically over the next few months and years. Three or four-year-olds usually only need 11 to 12 hours of sleep each day.

In particular, the need for daytime sleep is much lower here than in infants. The reason for this is that babies are not yet able to distinguish between day and night and therefore they are asleep at all times. However, once they realize the change and try a structured daily routine, the need for daytime sleep is greatly reduced.

After only two years, many children no longer need naps

Therefore, newborns have about five to six sleep stages during which they sleep about four hours at a time. However, after only a few months, the sleep phases are reduced to only three phases per day: one longer at night and two shorter phases during the day.

By the age of one and a half, children’s daytime sleep requirements have fallen to midday naps, and some children can dispense with midday naps after just two years, according to the “Healthy Kids” initiative from the Federal Center for Health Education.

During the first few years, children’s sleep patterns also change significantly at night. From eight hours in newborns to a whopping 12 hours in the first year. However, starting from the twelfth month, this night sleep decreases again, because babies generally need less sleep.

In the first year: Babies sleep at night to 12 hours

But beware: this does not mean that children sleep through the night, but rather the duration of all phases of sleep at night!

A study conducted by the University Children’s Hospital in Zurich found that children’s need for sleep drops to about eleven hours per day by the age of six.

Since everyone is different and children all have their own individual needs, it also applies here that each child has different sleep requirements.

Required individual bedtimes for individual children

Therefore, you should let your child guide you when organizing bedtime or nap time.

When a child should go to bed depends on the time they wake up and the child’s individual sleep needs. If a child is always at the parents’ door at 6 am and needs 11 hours of sleep, they should sleep by 7 pm at the latest.

However, it is worth noting here if the baby still needs a nap or a long time to sleep, the bedtime should be adjusted accordingly.

Sleep log to organize sleep needs

A sleep log can help determine if a child’s bedtime needs adjusting or if they’re ready to give up a nap. Parents write down their children’s daily sleeping habits for a few weeks and then adjust bedtime accordingly.

While some children may not need a real period of sleep during the day, many still need time when they can fully relax in the afternoon. This should definitely be taken into account if the afternoon nap is skipped.

However, if you find that the baby is very tired and tired during the day, you can of course reintroduce the afternoon nap. This primarily serves to prevent the little ones from having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep in the evening.

The different types of sleep: does this really exist in childhood?

As with adults, you can actually categorize different types of sleep in childhood. There is certainly an inherited need for sleep, which means that even babies at a young age sleep for a very long time.

But even short sleepers are not a direct cause for concern, the individual needs of children also play a role: some simply need less sleep than others.


In general, it can be said that parents should pay attention to bedtime and above all to the individual sleep needs of their children, but you should not worry too much if not all children need the same amount of sleep. If there are any particular abnormalities, it is always best to consult an expert.

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