We’re those parents who put their kids to bed at the same time every day, so that by 7:30pm, our toddler is tucked in and ready to sleep. Once in a while, he’ll take a late nap and we’ll extend his bedtime, but the latest he usually sleeps is 8:30pm. So far this routine has worked well for us. Yet when I’m out and about in the evening and see the same-aged kids at the mall, I wonder if and when a child is sleeping too late.

When is a child sleeping too late?

How late is too late for your child's bedtime?There are times though when I wish we had more flexibility. Take the holidays, for instance. Both my husband and I have grown up celebrating Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, forgoing an early bedtime in lieu of staying up until midnight and then some. Every kid in my extended family continues this tradition… except mine. For the past two years, we skipped this holiday tradition and instead opted to join them the following day (a.k.a. the B-list festivities of leftover food and groggy attendance).

Having a regular bedtime routine keeps our toddler’s temper at bay, so I only half-mind that we miss out on evening events. He seems to thrive with consistency and appreciates that he knows what to expect and when.

sleepeasyPlus, my preference for an early bedtime is reassured when I hear from sleep experts Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack, authors of The Sleepeasy Solution. According to that book:

Most children do well with a bedtime between 7:00 and 8:00 PM; 8:30 is the very latest bedtime we recommend all the way up to age 10.

And so far we’ve followed this with success. Other than the one time our kiddo stayed up until 9:30 PM for fireworks, he has always gone to bed no later than 8:30. We found that even when he did sleep late at 9:30 PM, he still woke up at his usual time (no hope for sleeping in).

Our son also goes to preschool, requiring him to be out the house by 8:30 AM five days a week. While this may not be late in most kids’ standards, the repetition of regularity of waking up (and going to sleep) at the same time every day has helped make sure he doesn’t get cranky from lack of sleep.

And yet I hear from other parents and family members whose kids have a completely different schedule. The kids still clock in the usual 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, but pushed way up so that they’re sleeping at midnight and waking up at noon. The schedule works for them, as they’re able to spend more time with their kids in the evenings and even bring them to social functions.

As our kid has grown older, we’ve been more lenient with evening outings. Special occasions are special for a reason, and whatever grumpiness or hassles of putting a child to sleep late at night could perhaps be contained for a day.

As far as Christmas Eve and our family’s midnight revelry, we might even venture out to sleep past bedtime.

What time do your kids go to bed? Do you have a set bedtime every night, or are you more flexible with when your kids turn in for the night? If you have a set schedule, when have you made exceptions to bedtime?

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