There are so many things I just didn’t think of when Charley was born, and looking back some of these things seem so obvious. I had the bassinet set up in our room next to our bed, and like a lot of new moms, I felt nervous and worried about my little babe. I wanted to make sure I could easily see her in the night to make sure she was okay. So, like the genius I was, I decided a small night light would be a great idea! Nope. Not a good idea.
So, lets talk about why a dark room is best for baby.
Babies are not afraid of the dark. That won’t actually develop until around age 2.5 when that imagination really starts developing. At that point a dim, warm night light is best if needed.
Light stimulates the brain. Babies were just in a pitch black womb, so it doesn’t take much to stimulate them. Even looking at our faces all day can cause overstimulation. Remember – everything is new and exciting to our little ones and this includes a tiny bit of light.
Just like adults, we have more restorative sleep and can fall asleep easier in a dark room. This is because light actually inhibits the production of our sleepy hormone, melatonin. A dark room helps produce melatonin.
When babies are brand new they have their days and nights mixed up. Light essentially tells us it’s “awake time.” So when you’re working on that day and night confusion, you want to help that situation by keeping it as dark as possible at night.
You might be thinking, “well my newborn sleeps totally fine in the day in the living room with us talking, visiting, watching tv, etc.” This is absolutely true, but for night sleep we want our new babies to have restorative sleep and ideally longer stretches than those living room naps. By 2-3 months of age, even for naps we want to try and have our babies in a relatively consistent environment for all sleep (when possible) – you still need a life mama! So it’s totally fine if naps are on the go sometimes.
So how dark should it be? DARK. Very dark. You almost want it pitch black. If you hold out your hand in front of your face and you can see it, it’s not dark enough. Light peeking in is also a common culprit for early morning wakings with babies. Therefore, for all of these reasons, I recommend heavy blackout curtains – but in some cases these just don’t cut it. We have blinds and 2 layers of blackout curtains, and it’s still not dark enough especially during those summer months when the sun is rising at 5:00am! So we went to home depot, found paper blackout blinds for $6.00, cut them to size, and they fit perfectly in the windows under our multiple layers of curtains and regular blinds and it’s FINALLY dark enough.
There are so many factors when it comes to achieving good consolidated sleep from our babies, but a dark room is a major component of setting up a proper sleep environment and a step in the right direction to achieving those restful nights!
Need help with getting your little one to sleep, and to sleep well! Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or see my “Services and Products” section to find the right product for you.
Michelle Griffith – Calgary Sleep Consultant. Offering Web Based Services and eBooks to help families with sleep wherever they are located!