Little kids are notoriously afraid of the dark. But what about babies? Should they sleep in the dark, or will they wake up crying because they are afraid?
Fun fact: babies love darkness during sleep.
It helps them sleep more deeply too. However, you don’t have to launch a rocket at the sun to stop it from shining down during the day in the name of getting the baby to sleep.
I’ve received many questions about whether a baby should sleep in the dark, if you should turn on lights, and those sorts of things, so let me get right down to it.
Should infants nap in the dark?
The room your baby naps in doesn’t necessarily need to be pitch black. For babies, daytime and nighttime have no real significance. However, the dark is quite comforting for all babies. It helps them settle down, fall asleep, and stay that way.
You don’t have to block out all the light during the day, but the darker you can get the room, the better it will be for nap time.
Where should my baby nap during the day?
Sometimes, we’re out and about and the baby falls asleep. This is especially true in the early stages when you really haven’t gotten a sleep schedule set (because newborns march to the beat of their own drum).
Many times, each of my daughters slept in the carrier or the stroller while we were out. When we moved back to the states, my youngest slept like a dream in her car seat any time we went anywhere.
But when you do get on a schedule (usually around 6 weeks), you should try to give your baby a nap in the same place every day. This consistency lets babies know what’s coming, and babies (small children too) become comforted by this routine. So, put your baby to sleep for naptime in her usual sleeping place, whether that’s her crib or bassinet.
What color light helps babies sleep?
Light, as you know, can keep you up. It’s why experts have been urging even us adult people to turn off our devices an hour before sleeping. White and blue lights make us more alert.
But not all light has this effect. Recent studies have shed some light on the subject, pardon the pun, and it seems some types of light can help us fall asleep.
The type of light surrounding you and your baby can change the way you sleep. It depends on the color, brightness, hue, and saturation all together. This affects melatonin production, the hormone that helps you sleep. With the right light, you can sleep even better.
But if you’re wondering about leaving a light on for your baby, I’d say no to that if it’s a regular light. Something like this one by Hatch which also plays soothing sounds as a nice bonus could be a helpful tool in leaving a light on without leaving a light on if you know what I mean.
This is important:
The color you’re going for when it comes to helping baby sleep best is red or amber.
This is the color that can help with that circadian rhythm. It will make you sleepy, add calmness, and it will boost melatonin production naturally. There’s some talk about it also making for a better mood and mental health though I haven’t seen anything official.
It’s certainly worth a try!
So, to recap, babies should sleep in the dark whenever possible. They are soothed by darkness, and sudden light can wake them up from sleep. It’s not necessary to block everything out during naps, though the darker the room, the better.
Leaving lights on like the one in the adjacent bathroom or a traditional white nightlight is discouraged because they can activate the brain. Blue lights from your devices are a bad idea, too, since they cause the same effect.
Read more about the baby’s sleep-friendly environment.
If you’re going to leave a light on, make sure it’s red or amber so it will be conducive to helping your baby, toddler, and even yourself get some sleep!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.