1 Big Mistake Every Mom Is Probably Making at Bedtime

OMG 116

toddler sleeping

Ugh. What the heck? According to a new study conducted at the University of Colorado, parents are putting toddlers to bed too early, resulting in them having all kinds of sleep issues. (Are you freakin' kidding me?)

The study was published in the journal Mind, Brain, and Education -- and basically states that whether or not a toddler has a good night's sleep depends on whether they're being put to bed in line with the time their internal body clock thinks is right.

And guess what? If you put them to bed too early and their body isn't digging it -- they could wind up lying there awake for hours. And you know what that can lead to? Insomnia and emotional problems down the road. 

Awesome. Just perfect.

And now I'm so confused, I really don't know what to do with myself. I always thought the general rule of thumb was "sleep begets sleep," or something to that effect. You know, if you put the kiddo down earlier, he won't be overtired, so he'll sleep better and hopefully for a longer period of time.

More from The Stir: What Your Kid's Bedtime Says About You

But now this study is saying the opposite is true -- and that by not letting your toddler set his own bedtime, you may be screwing up his sleep patterns and making him all kinds of miserable. What are we supposed to do though -- let our kiddos call the shots about when the lights should go out every night? If I'd gone that route with my son when he was little, we probably never would've been asleep before midnight. And then he would've been up at the crack of dawn anyway -- which would have been the epitome of "this really sucks."

I think it's just time for us to face the facts. When our kids are really young, we need to pretty much give up on the fantasy of us or them ever having consistent full nights of sleep. Seriously ... maybe we should just get rid of bedtime altogether and pray that our toddlers run themselves ragged and eventually just drop to the floor out of exhaustion. At least then we're not messing with their internal body clocks and can't be held responsible for ruining their lives.

What time does your toddler go to bed? Does he sleep well?


Image via Brian A. Vikander/Corbis

toddler sleep


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Austi... Austinsmommy12

10:00-10:30pm to 10:00-10:30am. Straight through, wakes up smiling. When he starts getting sleepy and rubbing his eyes, we put him down. He immediately goes to sleep and stays that way. He HATES being woken up early also. He's not happy unless he's had at least 11 hours.

nonmember avatar FarmersWife

I completely agree with this. The key to an earlier bedtime is not just setting it, or refusing naps and changing nap times. It's getting them up earlier in the morning.

Katha... Katharine205

My daugher has gone to bed at 8 or 9 since she got home from the hospital and she's pretty well adjusted (she's 5 now) so far.  We let her stay up late for special occasions but that's about it and now that she has school aat 8am she goes to bed a little earlier than 8 and still no issues with it.

the4m... the4mutts

I agree to a point. It depends on what time the child is being woken in the morning, and what their activities are throughout the day.

All my kids, no matter what age, or how well they sleep, are woken at 7am on weekdays, 8am on weekends. Our days are full, and active.

My 4yr old will put himself to bed if he's tired before our household bed time of 830. The older 3, would run until they crashed.

But you have to treat toddlers like babies sometimes, and watch for sleep signs. Just because they're still going, doesn't mean they're not tired. Watch your kids for a few days, and see when they start rubbing their eyes, getting cranky for no reason, making excuses to be extra active. Whatever time that averages between all children, should be their bed time.

nonmember avatar shannon

My son(4year old)gets laid down at 930. And he doesnt go to bed til 3-4am.and then i get him up at 930-10am to go to school.any advice on what i can do. Im so exhausted.

Spike Amsterdam

when my daughter was going to daycare i put her to bed at 08.00pm and she wpuld sleep till about 08.00/09.00am. Now she is going to school (4jr) and she goes to bed at 07.00pm sometimes 07.30pm and waker up at 07.00am. If he goes to bed later she is tired the next day and doesn't listen as well than when she gets enough sleep. At the weekend she can go 08.00/08.30pm and she still wakes up at 07.00am

jrphelps jrphelps

If my son isn't in bed asleep by 8:30, he will tell me, "Mommy, I'm tired."  I have tried keeping him up later on the weekends in hopes he will sleep later.  But that just means he falls apart sooner the next day & needs earlier naptime!

Jenniw00 Jenniw00

My 2 year old has some issues because of snoring (tonsils are coming out soon) and her sleep schedule was interrupted.  She was staying awake well into the early morning hours. I talked with her doctor and I gave her melatonin about a half hour before bed.  I only gave it to her for 3 days and her sleep cycle was reset (you can give up to 10 days but not to use every night because then they will lose the ability to put themselves to sleep).  She is now going to sleep a half hour or less after being put to bed.

nonmember avatar LeahsMommy

My daughter turns 3 a few days before Christmas. Since birth she has been in bed at about 8:30 every night and she wakes up at 9am like clockwork. I wake her up twice in the night to prevent accidents since she doesn't wear diapers or anything, but other than that she sleeps straight through and always has aside from late night feedings and diaper changes when she was an infant. She's always in a great mood in the morning and she falls asleep at night within minutes. She rarely takes naps during the day unless we've done something out of the ordinary that wears her out long before bedtime. I'm have my 2nd child in June, he or she will have the same schedule after infancy.

JessL... JessLogansMommy

My kids are in bed by 8 every night, have been since they were around 1. They both did about 12 hours at night with 2 naps, morning and afternoon.   They were always happy and well rested, and I found that others who didn't pay as much attention to their children's nap schedules had much more miserable kids.  Waking up at 5am, 4pm meltdowns that lasted until after dinner then the kids would be wired until 10pm.  I'd rather have my kids on a schedule and be happy than let then set their own schedule and have us all be miserable!  

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