The average bedtime for kids from birth to 3 in the United States is 8:52 p.m., reports a new study by Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., a children's sleep researcher at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. And children who were dozing by 9 p.m. slept better than those who got tucked in after that. Follow these strategies to create a set bedtime:
Earlier is better. The best bedtime for babies is before they get overtired, usually between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., says Mindell.
Stick to the same three or four activities. You want your baby to know exactly what's going to happen next: First, bath. Next, books. Then, songs. Finally (hopefully), snoozeland.
Relax and reconnect. Bedtime can be stressful. To take the pressure off, ignore the phone and any other deal-with-it-later distractions. That way, you can read and unwind with your baby, setting her up for sweet dreams.