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When you have children of different ages, they frequently need different bedtimes. There are several reasons different bedtimes may be necessary:

  • Children of different ages sometimes require different amounts of sleep.
  • The amount of sleep needed varies with each individual child.
  • Your school-aged child needs a different schedule than a stay-at-home toddler.

Studies have shown a bedtime routine helps everyone in the family get a better night’s sleep; therefore, it makes sense to establish an age-appropriate routine for each child.


To make sure you have a child-specific schedule for each child, take into consideration your children’s habits. For example, your toddler may take a before-nap bath three times a week and only needs to wash up before bedtime. Your school-aged child needs bath time in their bedtime routine each night. Children are less likely to complain if their schedule suits them.

Develop your child-specific schedule by beginning with what time each child must be in bed and working backwards, taking into consideration what each of them needs to get accomplished before bedtime. Write or print out each child’s schedule and post it to be referred to as need each evening.

Here are some suggested activities to include in the schedule for each child:

  • Time to pick up toys and straighten their room
  • Time to wash up, brush teeth, and put on pajamas
  • Time for being read to or reading by themselves
  • A half hour for falling asleep

Some activities, such as putting toys away, both children will be able to do together or at around the same time. Doing so teaches them cooperation and teamwork.

If your children share a room, make sure the child with the earlier schedule is not disturb after they are asleep. To do so, try the following:

  • Have a set time each evening when toys are put away by both children.
  • Have your older child prepare for the next day before the younger child gets in bed – pack the backpack and get out clothes for the next day.
  • Set a time after which your older child is not allowed in the room except for sleeping.
  • Try to set a time for your older child to go to bed after the younger is already asleep.
  • Make sure a night light is available that lights the way for both children to get to their beds safely and quietly, both at the start of their sleep and before and after mid night potty trips.

There are some advantages to having different bedtimes for your children. You can spend pre-bed time alone with each child, engaging in whatever activity helps them prepare for sleep. Your older child may wish to have a conversation about their day and share concerns they have. A bedtime routine helps kids feel more secure, learn to follow directions, and build responsibility.

After a month or more, your children should not need your supervision to adhere to their individualized bedtime schedules. Establishing a bedtime routine is not difficult and makes your family’s evenings more relaxing and enjoyable.

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