Basics Sleep

Should Newborns Sleep In A Dark Room?

Let’s face it, when your little bundle has a good long sleep it feels like a godsend.

During the day, those precious minutes (or if you’re lucky hours) allow you to work on those never-ending chores, while at night, a good chunk of sleep makes the next day a LOT easier.

As naps are so important for both parents and babies alike, there’s no doubt you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure your baby has the best possible sleep in their bassinet or crib.

So you might be wondering if the amount of light in their room will make any difference.

The answer is yes, a dark room is better and will help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep for longer.

Why Should Newborns Sleep In A Dark Room?

When we think about the best conditions for a baby to sleep in, we should remember the environment they were accustomed to in the womb.

Given there was no light in mom’s womb, newborns are used to the dark and find it very comforting.

For this reason, a baby finds it much easier to settle down and fall asleep in a dark room – in fact, the less light the better.

man in green shirt lying on bed beside baby in red shirt

Is It Bad For A Baby To Sleep In A Dark Room?

No, it’s not bad at all for a baby to sleep in a dark room, especially as it helps them sleep better.

However, while the room should be dark during nap times, you should ensure your baby is exposed to natural light once they are awake, particularly in the morning.

So once your baby wakes up for the day ahead, make sure you open the curtains or blinds.

This will signal to them that awake time equals a time when there is a lot of light.

It will also help your little one differentiate between day and night, and help reverse the cycle of sleeping a lot during the day and being awake at night – a cycle you’ll no doubt want to break too!

A dark room will also encourage your baby to produce melatonin (more on this later).

Should Newborn Daytime Naps Be In The Dark

Yes, given your baby finds the dark comfortable, and it helps their melatonin production, both night time sleep and daytime naps should be in a dark room, especially as this may reduce the likelihood of your baby fighting their nap.

When Do Babies Produce Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally-produced hormone that helps encourage sleep.

Our brains produce melatonin in response to darkness, which is why it’s so important for your baby to sleep in a room with as little light as possible.

Babies produce melatonin from around 2-3 months of age, and once they start producing this hormone, their sleep cycle will fall into a more regular rhythm.

What stimulates Melatonin Production In Babies?

By far the best way to stimulate the production of melatonin in babies and toddlers is by sleeping in a dark room.

This is why it’s best for your baby to nap during the day and sleep overnight in as dark a room as possible.

But are there any other ways to stimulate the production of melatonin?

Well, there is one other important thing you can do, and that’s to establish a consistent sleep routine (more on this below).

baby in teal pajama lying in crib

Top 5 Tips to Improve Daytime Naps & Night time Sleep

  • Optimize The Room For Sleep: A dark, quiet room will encourage better sleep. If your curtains are letting in too much light, consider attaching black out blinds directly to the window to block out light. Struggling with noise? White noise sound machines can work wonders.
  • Create A Consistent Pre-Sleep Routine: You want your baby to know it’s sleepy time based on what occurs in the build up. Bedtime stories, singing soothing songs, bath time, teeth brushing and using the same style sleep sack are all excellent ways to build a consistent routine before sleep.
  • Put Baby To Sleep Before They’re Overtired: You probably know all too well that an overtired baby or over-stimulated toddler will really try to fight sleep, so watch the signs your baby is tired (rubbing eyes, yawning), and once you see any of the signs, start the bedtime routine immediately.
  • Encourage Fresh Air & Exercise: As with adults, a baby that’s spent time outdoors and engaged in physical activity will fall asleep more easily and stay asleep for longer.
  • Avoid Screen Time Before Bed: The light from screens will reduce or delay the production of melatonin, which we’ve seen is vital for good sleep. So limit your child’s use of technology or watching cartoons or movies in the build-up to sleep, and have a cut off 1-2 hours before bed.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Baby & Toddler Sleep

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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