"Sleep is sleep! Isn't it? Does it really matter if my baby sleeps from midnight until 10 AM? They're still getting 10 hours of sleep!" - Me, prior to becoming a mom & sleep consultant
I always thought it never really mattered when babies went to bed and always used to wonder why my friends kids went to bed so early! Well, it turns out they were just doing the right thing for their kids & being awesome parents.
It's all about that REM sleep! It's so key for these little nuggets to get their quality REM sleep. This is the type of sleep that allows for brain development. The science shows that babies spend more time in REM sleep in the first part of the night. Other studies show that babies who went to bed earlier, slept LONGER! amazing right :) This certainly defies the thought that if your baby goes to bed earlier, they will wake up earlier. More on this later.
There's a few reasons why a later bedtime can cause daily issues with sleep...
When bedtimes are consecutively too late, they may wake up in the morning in a state of higher neurological arousal due to being short on sleep, which essentially means they're "wired". This can make naps difficult! When a baby is overtired, it's usually harder for them to fall asleep & possibly stay asleep. And if naps are missed, or not long enough this ultimately results in an overtired kiddo. If you've heard of the "witching hour", this is usually the cause!
If you think your little ones bedtime is too late, try adjusting it 15 minutes earlier every few days until you reach your goal. This may mean capping the last nap, or moving the nap up by 15 minutes as well. It may take a few weeks to do this but trust me, it will be worth it! A well rested baby is a usually a happy one :)