What’s the right bedtime for a 2 year old? How to figure out the perfect bedtime for your 2 year old & create a daily routine for better sleep and nap time. Plus, get instant access to 40+ schedules for kids through elementary school in Mastering Sleep & Schedules.
Finding the Right Bedtime for Your Toddler
This is a question I get emailed a lot and I hear it often amongst Moms gingerly asking amongst their friends about bed times.
“What time does your 2 year old go to bed?”
Do you want to know the answer to this question?
The truth is, there’s not a one-size-fits-all bed time all 2 year olds should follow.
That may not the exact answer you want to hear, but I’m not going to leave you hanging.
I’m going to show you how to find the best bedtime for YOUR child based on a few things:
- time they wake up
- when and how long they nap
- what time you want them go to bed
- how long they sleep at night
- your family’s schedule (do you work, does your partner work, how many kids do you have…)
Every child’s sleep needs are different, and family dynamics are unique, but regardless of these factors, as a parent, you’re always in charge of your child’s bedtime.
If you want your child to go to bed early, that’s awesome.
If you want your child to go to bed later, then that’s great too.
The truth is, once you figure out what time YOU WANT YOUR CHILD TO GO TO BED, you make your routine around this.
Here’s how to do that.
How Much Sleep Does a 2 Year Old Need
In Mastering Sleep, Routines and Schedules I teach you all the steps to create a great routine, but you have to have a starting place and that’s your child’s bedtime.
Before you figure out your 2 year old’s optimal bedtime, you need to know how much sleep your child needs.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) here are the current sleep recommendations for kids at different ages:
- Babies 4 – 12 months: 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours (including naps)
- Kids 1 – 2 years: 11-14 hours of sleep per 24 hours (including naps)
- Kids 3 – 5 years: 10-13 hours of sleep per 24 hours (including naps)
- Kids 6 – 12 years: 9-12 of sleep hours per 24 hours
- Teens 13 – 18 years: 8-10 hours of sleep per 24 hours
When you follow these guidelines from the AAP, then you can determine an appropriate bedtime based on when your child wakes up, how long they nap, and family dynamics.
Family Dynamics Play a Role in Bedtime
There are several considerations when you set your child’s bedtime and family dynamics are a big part of this.
- Do you work outside the home?
- Does your partner work outside the home?
- Do you have multiple children?
Particularly for working families, I’ve seen more consistently later bedtimes.
For families with multiple kids, bedtime can be hard trying to get individuals down one-at-a-time instead of all together.
The Research Behind Early Bedtimes
There’s some interesting and proven facts behind getting your child to bed as early as 7 pm.
There’s a growing body of research that indicates children who get to bed late are set up to fail, experts warn, and evidence demonstrates that less sleep impairs children’s ability to learn, retain information, and regulate their emotions.
In fact, research on early bedtimes show children have a lower future obesity risk, have better immune systems that make them less vulnerable to future illness, while promoting better growth.
In a more recent study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers followed nearly 1,000 preschoolers into adolescence, tracking their bedtimes around age 4, in addition to their height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) when they were about 15 years old.
Results showed 39 percent of children who went to bed after 8 p.m. were obese as teenagers, compared to only 10 percent of their peers who went to bed before then.
What Time Should a 2 Year Old Go to Bed?
Taking into considering, the AAP’s sleep recommendations, evidence on early bedtimes and family dynamics, now bedtime is in your hands.
What’s best for your kids can sometimes outweigh an extra 30 minutes you may want to spend with them in the evening if you notice sleep signs or readiness to go to sleep, too.
I looked back at all three of my kid’s schedules (included in Mastering Sleep, Routines and Schedules) and we’ve always have a bedtime between 7pm and 7:30pm, although my husband works.
Keep in mind, bedtime changes and relaxes generally more in the Summer months when the days are longer and kids are out of school (maybe not the case for a two year old unless they have older siblings).
In any case, blackout curtains are an easy solutions and helpful tool to have in everyone’s bedroom for better sleep.
What do you feel is a good bedtime for your toddler?
Adjust Nap & Wake Up For Your 2 Year Old’s Bedtime
Now that you’ve chosen the perfect bedtime for your 2 year old, it’s time to adjust the rest of your schedule to fit this time.
For naps, you want to make sure there’s at least 5 hours from the time they wake up from nap time until the time you turn off lights for bedtime.
This may mean you need to shorten nap or push it a little earlier to make sure it doesn’t affect your toddler’s bedtime, or these factors can contribute to fighting bedtime and having toddler bedtime tantrums.
The 2 Year Sleep Regression
Are you dealing with a toddler who has put an abrupt stop to their naps or won’t go to sleep at bedtime without a fight? After making it past the 18 month sleep regression, now you’ve hit the 2 year old sleep regression, but this is the last sleep regression and the easiest to overcome!
More Resources for 2 Year Old Bedtimes
- Mastering Sleep & Schedules – Get Instant Access to 40+ Daily Schedules
- A Smart (and Easy) Bedtime Routine Your Toddle Won’t Fight
- Best Hack to Get Kids to Sleep is to Change the Narrative About Nap & Bedtime
- 2 Year Old Sleep Regression or More of the 18 Month Sleep Regression?
- Create a Routine: 6 Sample Toddler Schedules from Real Moms